OBJECTIVE: This study sought to characterize a subset of patients with
DSM-III schizophrenia or schizophreniform disorder who respond to lithium.
METHOD: Sixty-six psychotic patients were given a systematic therapeutic
trial of lithium alone. Differences in demographic characteristics,
symptoms, and family history of psychotic disorders between the responders
and nonresponders to lithium were explored. RESULTS: Responders and
nonresponders did not differ significantly in age, duration of illness,
length of current episode, distribution of RDC and DSM-III diagnoses, or
number of positive symptoms. However, the responders to lithium (N = 10)
exhibited a paucity of negative symptoms and an absence of familial
schizophrenic spectrum disorders. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary results
suggest the possibility of pretreatment identification of psychotic
patients for whom neuroleptic medication could be avoided by therapeutic
intervention with lithium alone.