What is Lamictal (Lamotrigine) and How Does it Help Manage Bipolar Disorder?

LamictalAs you may already know, Lamictal changed and saves my life.  It’s the only drug I’ve been able to take since I was diagnosed in 1995. I am always singing the praises about the drug.

It comes with side effects for sure-   the main one being a rash that can be serious. But it’s very, very rare.  Many health care professionals are wary of Lamictal because of the rash, but I always remind people that a potential side effect is just that. If monitored correctly, the potential is small. Also, the rash is normally benign. Make sure your prescriber knows all of the history before saying no to prescribing Lamictal or Lamotrigine. A rash doesn’t mean you can’t take the drug. It often means you just need to start with a lower dose and increase is slowly.

What is Lamotrigine?

The generic form of Lamicatal is called Lamotrigine.  Lamictal is the brand name and is still prescribed. If you search under the word ‘generic’ you can read  my stories of woe regarding the generic form.  It didn’t work for me at all and I went back to brand name Lamictal. If Lamotrigine works for you, that is fantastic as it’s very cheap. If you try it first and it doesn’t work, defintely ask about the brand name Lamictal. Insurance companies will usually allow the brand change if your prescriber explains why.

For most, the generic is just fine. My mother takes Lamotrigine with very few side effects and great results.

In my experiences with my clients as well as my own experience with myself and family members, Lamictal has many, many more benefits than being a mood stabilizer for bipolar depression. I have seen the following benefits for many years:

Benefits of Lamictal

1. It works extrememly well for irritation and mild aggression.  It’s especially effective for negativity.

2. Rapid cycling. Though this is not talked about as much, Lamictal reduces my rapid cycling by at least 50%.

3. Hypomania- the milder mania from Bipolar two.  Lamictal is not an anti mania drug- this is why people with bipolar one almost always take Lithium, Tegretol, Depakote and or an antipsychotic such as Seroquel, Ability, Risperdol or Zyprexa to manage the mania along with the Lamical for depression.  I have bipolar II and belive me, Lamictal helps my hypomania!

4.  Mild psychosis.  Lamictal keeps me more in touch with reality! It doesn’t have strong anti psychotic benefits, but it defintely helps my paranoia.

I’ve seen it change the lives of so many people! I suggest that anyone who is having trouble with bipolar disorder symptoms at least try Lamictal. As mentioned before, it can be started at a super low dose in order to minimize side effects and then kept at an effective dose for a very long time.  It’s considered the least side effect heavy of any bipolar disorder medication.

I have been on Lamictal since 2005. I defintely have side effects off and on from a stiff neck to itching and twitching! When my dose gets too low- I twitch ‘like a maniac!’ as my friend Pam once said. She really found me amusing! It has also stopped working for me before and my dose had to be significantly increased.  The average dose is 250 mg.  My mom takes 125 mg and I take 700 mg!  Making sure it’s dosed correctly is essential as the range of doses is so high.

I just got this comment from Lin:

Hi, my daughter has taken Lamictal for siezures for many years with no side effects. We had just increased her dose and she started developing tics and high anxiety . Her Neurologist said they are both side effects.Hope this helps.

All drugs have side effects, even aspirin. But I always, always look at the payoff of the drug. If it helps more than it has side effects, I am up for it.

If you are having a hard time or if someone you love is having a hard time, it’s always a good idea to talk to a prescriber about Lamictal.

It can change a life!

Julie

62 comments to What is Lamictal (Lamotrigine) and How Does it Help Manage Bipolar Disorder?

  • Gail

    Julie
    I agree with you so much. Lamotrigine made a huge change for me. My pdoc informed me about the rash and told me she would start with a very low dose and increase at a very slow pace to prevent that from happening. She was so great and that dreaded rash never happened and the drug was made for me. The only side effect that I have is that I am constantly wiggling my tongue, but that is not noticeable to anyone but me. I hope other people will get the chance to try this medication and have it work for them I really think it saved my sanity.

  • Lamictal has also changed my life. Thankfully it was the first drug that my doctor prescribed to me when I was diagnosed 6 years ago and I have been on it since then. Occasionally I will add another drug for a particular up or down cycle, but for the most part, I remain consistently stable on this medication. I also tried the generic and it was not good at all, but once my doctor wrote my insurance company, they approved covering the name brand again. Thank you for sharing!

  • My understanding is that it’s always recommended to start with a very low dose of Lamictal and slowly increase it to avoid the rash. Lamictal works great for my hypomania, which in the past had increased to full-blown mania without treatment. I still get depressed but would be much worse without the medication, and the only time I really have hypomania is when my body chemicals change (usually just “PMS” time or times of high stress).

    When I was first diagnosed my NP prescribed Lithium. It made me thirsty all the time and made my mouth feel all hot and tingly and strange. I was having hot flashes and sweating a lot on Lithium, and I was extremely manic. Lamictal has been so much better, with just some dose changes here and there. I was taking 300 mg of Lamictal at first. My NP lowered the dose to 250 mg, and when I mentioned that I was feeling rather dull and stupid she lowered the dose to 200 mg and I smartened up a bit!

    I’m an itchy person to begin with because I’m allergic to pollen and house dust, so I’m not sure if Lamictal contributes to my itchiness. I’m also wiggly and find it hard to get comfortable and sit still, but I’ve always had neck and back pain so that might not be caused by the Lamictal either. I have some twitches and shaking in my hands during PMS/high stress times. But overall, the benefits far outweigh any itchies, twitchies, or wigglies!

  • Aha, I didn’t know that the closed throat thing was related to Lamictal! I have the yawning and shortness of breath too, but I also have asthma so I thought that was the problem. I agree, personal experience stories are so helpful!

  • Cee

    I did the slow dosage increase that you’re supposed to do. I was doing very well on lamotrigine when I was at 100mg. I was doing so well moodwise, I figured if 100mg was good, 150 mg would be better and 200mg would be even better than that. Not so for me. I had been having a few problems with concentration and memory over the years due to depression. At 150mg these problems increased and I often forgot words I wanted to use when I was talking. I could fake it by using other ways of saying things but sometimes I know the way I talked sounded pretty peculiar. I also started becoming clumsy and losing my balance slightly when I walked. Nothing too bad but I did notice it. At first I didn’t know that it was the medication that was causing the balance problems. I asked my psychiatrist and he said it was possible it was the lamotrigine. He laughed when I said I would have to fall on my face before I would think of reducing my dose. A couple of months later after a relapse into depression, my pdoc increased my dose to 200mg (supposedly the therapeutic dose). It has been three weeks now and my memory, concentration and balance problems have increased dramatically without my depression lifting all that much. I haven’t fallen on my face yet , but next week when I go for my med check, I’m going to ask to have my dose reduced. Needless to say, I am very disappointed I didn’t respond better. Everything was going along so well at first.

  • Cee, I have the lost words thing too, and I never thought of it being caused by Lamictal. I used to have such a great vocabulary! I get the wobblies as well. My legs just don’t seem to be where I think they are and I stub my toes a lot. I find I’m more balanced and don’t run into things as much when I wear my Vibram FiveFingers shoes (they are a “barefoot” shoe, I like the “Jaya” model best so far). My memory and concentration aren’t what they used to be, but they did get better with the reduced dose. I hope you can find a dose that works for you. :-)

    Julie, thanks again for this post – I’ve been learning a lot too!

  • Nancy Thomas-Rohlfer

    All of this information has been extremely helpful. I have tried several medications and nothing is lifting my depression. I am currently on Cymbalta 60mg. I believe it is helping with my anxiety but is somehow contributing to my depression. My doctor has just diagnosed me with treatment resistant depression. I am thinking about suggesting Lamictal to him but am concerned about being label with “bipolar” and also about having a “flat” affect”. Has anyone experienced a dulling mood while on Lamictal?
    Nancy

    • Hi Nancy,

      You can tell how much I love Lamictal. It saves my life. I have not experienced any flat feelings. That tends to be more with lithium and some of the anti psychotics. In general, Lamictal has the least side effects of all bipolar disorder depression medications.

      Lamictal is used for bipolar and unipolar depression. My mom is on it and doesn’t have bipolar disorder. There is no need to worry if someone will think you have bipolar if you take the drug. If you say Lithium, well… most people will assume it’s bipolar, but people with depression sometimes take lithium as well.

      Every person I know who has responded well to Lamictal says it’s the best drug they have ever tried. It really is that amazing when it works. I know hundreds of people on Lamictal and have heard all kinds of side effects that are not common- such as getting manic (rare)- a serious rash (very rare!) and muscle problems such as a stiff neck and twitching. Outside of the rash, the side effects for most people are so mild it’s amazing.

      Lamictal was my 23rd drug. So never give up!

      Julie

      PS: If you go to the search box in the upper right corner and type in Lamictal- you can read more than you ever thought possible on the topic! I suggest you read all you can about the rash- as it’s rarely as serious as people think. If you start the drug slowly and titrate up on the dose, you should be fine. A prescriber can help you with this. Good luck! Please let me know how it goes.

    • Elizabeth Casto

      I am experiencing flat affect right now on it. I have only been on it for 2 weeks. I started it on a hypomanic episode and it slowed everything down and i still felt great.Now I feel like I’m dead on the inside and my soul is being sucked out of me. I cry at work now when I never used to. I am on 50mg ATM and the dose change has seemed to mess with me emotional. I feel like a wreck. All I want to do is sit in a dark corner away from everyone. But I cannot do that with a customer service job. My life is hell. I think I will need another antidepressant to level out.

      But everyone is different on meds. So you never know and maybe I will get better with an even higher dose who knows?

      • Nancy Thomas-Rohlfer

        So sorry to hear that you are feeling dead inside and that your soul is being sucked out of you!!!! I am just now starting to come out of my dark corner after being in it for over 3 months. You are not alone! I always feel alone when I am in those deep depressions. I try to reach out to people but they just don’t get it and they judge me which makes me want to isolate myself even more even though I know that is the worst thing I can do!!! Being in a customer service job is very difficult when you are feeling depressed!!! I had to quit my job because it was too stressful. I am trying to get help through Vocational Rehab so that I can find a better job that suits who I am.I have tried to reach out to services I qualify for so I can join a support group that understands what I am going through. I have an appt this Friday so I will see how it goes.

      • Sarah

        Hi Elizabeth & Nancy,

        I really think that having a customer service job contributes to depression A LOT. I’ve been working in call centers for most of my career, and sometimes I really hate it. For years, I actually thought I didn’t want to work, that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, and I resented having to work. But really, it’s what you have to do at work that makes it suck so bad. When I first got diagnosed w bipolar 2, I was on lamictal and abilify. I had incidences of rage, so every time I’d get angry, I’d pressure my pdoc to up my doses, until they were too high. And then I didn’t mind going to my call center job, but I was very flat, and my family didn’t like that. I just started lamictal again after 2 years being off both meds. I am going to try to keep the dose lower. Since I’ve been working cognitively with my therapist, I really don’t get angry like I used to. So, we’ll see. Call center jobs provide the highest pay I can get at my level of education, so that’s why I work in them. But it totally blows. I went back to college, because I’ve got to get out of this profession.

  • Nancy

    Thanks so much Julie this was very helpful!!! Can you tell me if there has been a lot of weight gain reported while taking Lamictal? I gained 40 lbs while on an anti-depressant. I have lost all of that weight and do not want to gain it back!!!
    Nancy

    • Hi Nancy,

      I’m glad I could help! I have never gained weight with Lamictal and don’t know anyone who has. (There are always exceptions- but weight gain is not the norm with Lamictal)

      I have gained weight from Trilafon, Risperdol, Seroquel, over the counter NAC amino acids, Depakote and Tegretol. But not Lamictal.

      julie

      • Maureen

        Im glad to hear that also about no weight gain, as I cannot afford that either, I am on Depakote at present and cannot shift an ounze at all, plus I cannot afford to gain weight because I have prolaspsed discs in my lower spine for which I wear a Butrans morphine patch daily to help with the pain. I would really need to get a few pounds off to help with that but its impossible taking Depakote, Im in the procedure by my Psychiatrist to have it changed as its also making my hair fall out rapidly.
        So Im going to ask her to consider letting me try Lamictal next week when see her.

  • Cee

    Nancy, this is a follow up from my previous comment. When I went back down to 150mg, I was better. I guess everyone just has to find the dose that works best for them. As far as “flat affect” is concerned, I find that it just chops off the worst parts of the depression but doesn’t seem to flatten out the good times much. I’ve always had way more depression than hypomania, so I sure appreciate that. I don’t cry at the drop of a hat like I used to. There’s been no weight gain either.

  • Holland

    I am currently taking Lithium 1200mgs (probably will go up to 1500mg soon to stay in therapeutic range) Seroquel 200mg and we are fazing out my citalipram. How would I go about trying Lamictal? I tried it once, but got a rash. So we just stopped it. I can’t remember the dose.
    I am really concerned about the possible weight gain with Seroquel, because I am already overweight and health wise can not afford to gain weight.
    I had a rough summer about 8 weeks of deep depression including 2 weeks in the psyc hospital and over 8 weeks of hypomania into mania. Just trying hard to get stable.

  • Eunice

    Hi Julie,

    Can your tell me how you ended up at 700mg? My daughter takes 300, I don’t think it does very much for her. But I doubt the doctors would go higher. And how would you know if the Lamictal name brand worked over the generic? What doctor would prescribe it if generic lamotrigine didn’t work?

    My daughter is on lithium, lamictal, Trileptal, Xanax and more, but she still has daily cycles that are hard to control.

  • Cheryl

    My boyfriend just started taking this about a year ago and his doctor only has him on 40 mg and it’s just not enough. After almost 20 years of refusing to take meds this is progress for sure, but both he and his doctor are being so very conservative I’m still waiting for the miracle to kick in. Don’t get me wrong, even at 40 mg it’s helped, but there is still irritably, cycling, sleeplessness, etc. His mom is at 400 mg so at least in theory he should be able to tolerate a higher dosage. How does one call attention to this issue without seeming to do so?

  • christa thurman

    Lamictal changed my life! I was angry and moody ALL THE TIME! Now I am nothing but happy everyday! It’s been 4 years and still working! :)

  • mark

    Julie,
    700 milligrams. I thought 300 was tops. You do know it can cause diabetes? I hope you have your insulin and glucose tested.

    • Hi Mark,

      Lamictal is a very personal drug in terms of dosage. My mom is on 125 while I am on the 700. There is little data at this dose- but it saved me.

      Many, many people take more than 300mg. It’s about how well it works. ALL of these drugs are toxic- all have side effects, but if they save lives- the dosage can get quite high. I discuss all of my meds with my coauthor Dr. John Preston who writes books on psych drugs and we decided on this dose when 500 and 600 were not helping. It has been three years now and I am still here! Julie

      • mark

        My doc wont let me go past 300 thats why I was amazed. I do know my glucose levels did go up and I am now pre diabetic as a result. The warnings on Lamictal discuss diabetes. That was my concern.

        • Thanks Mark. I”m going to talk with my coauthor John in the next few days and will defintely ask him. I have not heard of the 300mg cut off. All docs are different. It only matters that it is helping. Are you only on Lamictal? It is important to know this- but I have never heard this side effect with the drug. I will get back with you. We ALL need to get tested when we are on any psych drug. Julie

    • Oops I forgot to answer you diabetes comment. I’m actually on a diabetes prevention diet due to the meds- my blood sugar/insulin/etc are all normal- but I can’t take any chances. I get my lithium tested regularly as well. My weight is a problem, but my body is holding up. Do you have a link to the info on it causing diabetes? ANti psychotics have the highest risk of diabetes due to metabolic syndrome caused by fat around the stomach. I sometimes call it the seroquel stomach or the spare tire. If you have any information on this, feel free to write it here and I will pass it one! Thanks for your comments. Julie

  • jan

    iam taking lamotrigne for about 3months back it gave me sever sucidial thoughts even attempted iam on 100mg keeps me mum fagtigue lean legs sweting social disconect lack of intrest it is hell by this drug soul is feaking hypo mania was better than this hell

  • curt lee

    I started taking this because I felt like I was under depression and all sorts of mood swings. I was seventeen when I started taking these… After a bit I felt like I did before I was ill… I felt more in-touch with the world. I remember going on a trip at college and forgetting to bring them… and after four days I went back to how I felt before I started taking them… Disconnected from the world, depressed, cried and thought reality was scary… I’m back on them and I feel like I felt before I was ill… Normal. :)

  • I think my body is not made for Lamotrigine. I’ve been on 50-150mg add-ons to my cocktail to treat current state of hypomania rapid cycling. Anything over 50mg sets of tingling / paraphernalia for at least a full day. Complete with purple under my fingernails. I will ask my pdoc if she thinks switching to brand will make a difference. Lamotrigine is my second try for this cycle because Abilify caused a 30 lb weight gain the first month. I am hesitant to change because it seems like just when I get the mix working, I drop off hypomania into the dark side.

  • Hello! Ive been taking Lamictal for 7.5 years and I too have noticted drastic word recall loss. I can’t remember things very well and my mind is becoming like a elderly person’s. I’m only 37. It used to help my depression but I’m now having to add an anti-depressant to my regiment. I’ve been thinking about gping off the Lamictal for a while to see if my brain straightens out any. I have issues with balance and clumsiness as well. I don’t like feeling like this, i want to feel normal and alert again.

    • Hi Aurelius,

      This is totally normal. Many psych drugs affect word use- it makes sense- word use is chemical. Many of my meds have made me feel like a stroke survivor! This side effect comes and goes for me- I can live with it in terms of the Lamictal. I’ve had to stop other drugs due to memory problems though.

      I write a lot about side effects- if your quality of life is terrible- it’s almost like being depressed. We have an unfair dilemma!

      I suggest that you talk with your prescriber about changing the Lamictal dose first. Your body has changed a LOT in seven years.

      If you work with someone and go down slowly- you can find the balance between the Lamictal working and your memory coming back. If you find a place where the side effects are better- but the depression is coming back, adding an anti depressant can work. You have to be very careful though – Lamictal is not an anti mania drug. If you add an anti depressant, you’re definitely at risk for mania. Your prescriber can help with this!

      Here is the good news- I’ve never had permanent memory loss from my meds. It’s always a side effect. Ativan causes me similar problems, but if I keep my dosage low, I am fine.

      I have a lot more to say here and will write a post on this topic soon!

      Julie

  • julie peters

    My daughter is bipolar2 with rapid cycling. She is currently on Abilify and lexapro but she still cycles a lot and we are constantly adjusting her meds. I have been researching lamictal and it looks promising. She also takes metafolate which has changed her life! She had terrible brain fog and memory problems before she started the folate. Probably caused by meds it has cleared and she says she finally feels like herself. I think I read somewhere else that this is supposed to help with the lamictal as well. She had genetic testing done about 2 yrs ago as well (she has a great pdoc, she worked in research before going into practice) the info we gained has really helped with dosing. She takes a very low dose of the Abilify, which is effective and has reduced side effects. I would recommend testing if you can afford it.

  • Merci

    I have been on lamotrigine for many years (at least 7). I take 400mg at night. The worst side effect for me has been the constant peeling of my fingertips and of my ears. The very top of my ears get “crunchy”, like they’ve been sunburned, and it’s very painful to lay on my side to sleep. My doctor looked this up and it is a possible side effect. I need to read about the rash, as recently I’ve developed a terrible one around my ears and hairline. My fingertips are also painful. I can’t tell if the lamotrigine has really helped or not, as I’ve always been on several other meds at the same time. I’m taking Effexor XR and Topirimate along with Alprazolam. This posting has been very helpful, as I have experienced the forgetfulness and clumsiness. Nice to understand why!

  • Steve

    Hi Julie, I was diagnosed w/bipolar back in 84. I’ve primarily been depressed w/high anxiety. I started tapering from nefazodone to lamotrigne about 6 weeks ago. I am now on 100 mg lamotragine. For the 1st time in my life I felt real happiness. I actually looked forward to waking up in the mornings. Even my terribly depressing dreams disappeared. Sad to say it only lasted about 2 weeks – the gray skies are back. Can you speak to this? Have I developed a tolerance or ?????
    Any info you can provide will be appreciated – Thanks

  • ally

    I have been on lamictal for about a month and a half ive been taking 100mg for about 3-4 weeks notw and im starting as well as everyone else thst im way more irritated angry mean and short with people. Has this happened to anyone. Could I need a higher dose. My moods have been more stable. Not as many swings but just seem so angry all the time. any help?

  • Lucy

    Hello, just wanted to share my experience with adding Lamactil after MANY years of going from one anti-depressant to another. It definitely has changed my life. Like others have said, I finally really feel happy and look forward to getting up in the morning! I am only on 100 mg. and 40 mg. of Fluoxetine. I have the lack of the right word syndrome and also am spilling things MUCH more often than before. I googled and this is the site it gave me for “Lamactil and clumsiness”. Thanks for making me feel better! I get embarrassed about the spilling things and knocking things over! BUT like others have said, it’s worth it..totally.

  • Amanda

    Greetings! thank you so much for this blog! I just started lamictol about a month ago to replace Gaba Pentin because it was making me tired, groggy, and feeling kind of flat. I’m still on it as I’m increasing the lamictal, which is a generic. I increased from 25mg, to 50mg, to 100mg starting about a week ago. I haven’t noticed any benefits yet, but I’ve had nausea, stomach cramps, and pretty bad diahrrea. I’m wondering if those stomach symptoms will go away after a bit. I would certainly like a med that doesn’t make me so tired and groggy, We started the Gaba Pentin to help with racing thoughts and paranoia, which it does help with for sure. It also helps with negative thinking and toxic shame. If lamictal can help with those things, and help me be more clear-headed, I’d love that, I’m just hoping the stomach symptoms are temporary, and that I’ll be able to start feeling its benefits soon. Any thoughts/experiences? Thanks again!

  • Bob

    I am BP2 with a tendency to be on the depressive side more than the manic side. Lamictal (lamotrigine) works best for me. I currently take 300 mg per day. But Lamictal is just a base line med for me for management. I’ve found that I need to exercise at least 2 days per week at a minimum (preferably more), get sunlight during the winter (tanning bed – yeah I know), and take various other supplements (Magnesium Citrate, 5htp, niacin, EPA, zinc, multivitamin, apple cider vinegar, L-Tyrosine, L-Glutamine, GABA) that I keep tweaking all the time. This is a condition that definitely needs to be managed. There are so many things can be stressors that trigger episodes so you need to pay attention to what sets you off. Is it conflict at work? Is it attending a funeral or memorial service for a friend or loved one? Pay attention and observe your behavior. Hang in there with the lamictal. Keep working with your doc to tweak it up to the dosage that works for you without moving too quickly. You’ll know when you’ve boosted too much too soon. Listen to your body. For energy, the best single thing you can do is exercise! Even walking several days each week for 20 to 30 minutes will make a world of difference. My faith plays a huge role as well as I continually renew my mind to improve my thinking daily. Just remember, you’ll always be refining your management of your condition. You’re not going to find a magic formula that will work forever all the time. This is a life long pursuit. Enjoy the journey!

    • Marlena

      Dear Bob, I felt the spirit of God come upon me as I read your post. Great tips about the vitamins and exercise. Do you have a website or a blog about the tools you use to manage your symptoms? I started taking Lamotrigine in September and I indeed can tell the difference but I surely want my memory and vocabulary back. I think that the added vitamins and exercise as well as eating healthy may be just the thing to do the trick. Please let me what I can do. Lastly, I love how you end by saying, “enjoy the journey”. My journey is indeed less painful knowing there are people out there like you how are living a happy life with the illness.

  • dom

    I went on lamictal for 5 months. the first three were wonderful, my anxiety levels were down but by the 4th and 5th month I started feeling like I was doing some impulsive things that I hadn’t done before. I became very very irritable and argumentative. I also started feeling emotions less. I’m had a problem climaxing at all when I had sex with my wife.my vision was foggy i gained about 10 pounds because for some reason I was hungry all the time. I also felt my heart racing at strangest times, when I was laying down in bed.I was at 100 milligrams, it works for a while but then quickly dissipated and quite frankly I felt tired, not rested and just didn’t feel myself. Over the course of 3 weeks slowly then I finally did get off for about 3 days I had the worst headache and all I could do was sleep. I’m starting to feel a little more energetic as the days go on. This is where I’m at.

  • Maureen

    Please tell me, is Lamictal an antidepressant, as I dont need one of those at present, as since over a year Ive been quite the opposite end of BP, that’s why ive been put on a mood stablizer instead, Depakote, I dislike this one because as Ive stated many times when commenting that it is making my hair fall out as that is a side effect of it, it does say its ‘temporary’ but ive been on it over 4 months now and its still falling out, I cant afford to remain on it any longer or I’ll end up needing a wig before much longer.
    I was going to ask my Psychiatrist next week, God willing, when I see her about Lamcital but if its an antidepressent only it wont suit me.
    Can someone please tell me this asap thank you.

    • Hi Maureen, Lamictal is in the same classification as Tegretol and Depakote. It’s an anti epilepsy drug that is used in bipolar disorder. Unlike Tegretol and Depakote, Lamictal is NOT a mania drug. It’s for bipolar depression, anxiety, rapid cycling, hypomania and agitation. I find it’s especially good for those who have a lot of negativity in their mood swings. Julie

  • When I was hospitalized several years ago the shrink, who was not my doctor but someone who treated patients (I guess the “real” doctors didn’t want to come to the facility.) Any way he prescribed 300 mgs of lamictal 2x a day. Luckily I knew not to take so much. In fact I refused to take any amount. The staff was very positive about my refusal as some patients have had serious problems from such a high dose.Do not let anyone prescribe anything that you have not researched. Be your OWN advocate. No one else Will.

  • Todd

    I don’t post on sites like this, but I really like all the positive comments. I have been on lamotrigine for a few years now and it has changed my life around. I was diagnosed with both bipolar and manic depression and though I was a functional person I was consumed by it. I am able to actually live life and see a light at the end of the tunnel. I do have a laundry list of side effects but as it has been said already here, the good out ways the bad. I am willing to give up a few things to be able to go on. I am at a higher dose 700mg but that was after a long scaling up until we found what works best. One of the big side effects I didn’t learn until recently though is the interactions with pain killers. I ended up with a bad staph infection in my foot and found out that I needed a different and stronger pain med. I wasnt pleased but accepted this. I am happy this has worked though because the next step was going to be lithium. Well I’ve gone on enough but am glad this is helping soo many people.

    • I try to keep things positive. Even though this illness is not exactly a ball of fun! Thanks for sharing a positive story! I was also on 700 mg of Lamictal the last time I took it. I was off it a few years and am now on it again. It’s working. It’s important to know that as our bodies change- our reaction to meds can change. This can be a positive! Julie

  • Denise

    Hi,

    all the posts about Lamictal have been great, many thanks. I have been taking Lamictal for about 2 years now. About six months ago I increased my morning dose to 150mg, leaving my evening dose at 100mg. I was experiencing my first downer since starting Lamictal, I can’t bear the downs and I would do anything to avoid the full blown lethargy and depression and anger which comes. I feel again Lamictal have stopped working so well, my depression is nipping at my heels and I feel so bad inside. What should I do ? My doc and Pdoc are not very supportive due to my regular pdoc leaving practice. I tend to self medicate and be my own doctor. I am one of those bi-polars that just stops all medicine suddenly as I really believe I am ok, the mania goes up and I am very happy for a few months until the depression kicks in, and then I am on the floor again begging for help, how mad am I!! I feel quite desperate now I see all this stuff that I’ve written. Any advise ? I would be so grateful.

  • Heather

    I have a little bit of everything. Doctors have been leary of actually diagnosing me with bipolar because I don’t fit the “typical” spectrum. I have no trouble sleeping. (As a matter of fact, that’s pretty much all I want to do) But I have been diagnosed with EXTREME anxiety, OCD and the angry/irritable thing is driving me mad. Not to mention I’m so depressed I don’t even want to leave my house anymore. Three years ago, a round of steroids sent me into hallucinations that landed me 2 stints in the hospital and every drug I tried made me sicker than I was before. Luckily, I found a doctor that took me off of all of them and put me on Valium that brought me out of it and saved my life. Paranoia has kicked in and now I’m terrified to take ANY kind of psych drug. I’m desperate for help and my pdoc is begging me to try Lamictal. As a single mom who works, I’m terrified to take this drug and try to go to work in case I can’t function. My irritability and constant feeling of being overwhelmed already keeps me in enough trouble as it is. Have any of you that have taken it not been able to function at first? Thanks!

    • Bob

      Give it a try! I now take between 300 and 400 mg per day. It’s my baseline and only psych med. Many other approaches are in the mix too. I must exercise 2 to 4 times per week. L-tyrosine to lift the depression and GABA to help with anxiety and irritabity. 12 minutes per week at the tanning booth on $5.00 Tuesdays at my local tanning spa (controversial I know but much needed for me). I’m always researching and tweaking various compliments to the lamictal (lamotrigine – generic), but Lamictal as a baseline has been vital. They will start with a low dose and titer up to the therapeutic dosage right for for you. Some need more than others and you’ll probably need to increase dosage over the long run on occassion. I was in the blind study trial back in 97 or 98 before it was approved for bipolar settling in at 100 mg at first going up crom there kver the years. Give it a try. Nothing to lose and potentially much to gain. Good luck and God bless!

  • lisa m.

    I have been dealing with depression and ptsd for years, all my life. Today i was diagnosed with bipolar 2, and I am terrified! My Dr. Wanted me to research bipolar 2 and lithium and lamitcal, and i found this site. I am 60 years old and i need to know if i can really live a “normal” life? I do not know if this is worth it! The lows are getting more frequent and i am so tired! As i read on this “mental disorder”, I do not know if it is worth fighting anymore. ;(

    • Hello Lisa, Bipolar disorder two is completely treatable! Look at all I do. I think it’s wonderful that you final got many of your questions answered- it doesn’t matter how old you are when diagnosed- it means that you can now get the right treatments. I recommend my book Bipolar Happens on the Kindle for .99 and my book Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder to get you started. I promise that both of those books will get you on the right track. Both are on amazon.com. Take Charge is in books stores and libraries. Julie Also= the just diagnosed post on the main menu is very helpful! You are going to be fine. You found this site and it will lead you to management!

  • Joe

    I feel the real lamictal or name brand is definitely stronger then the generic. The generic was given to me after having the odt…well to make long story short while the odt kept me in control the generic failed heavily for some reason. Try getting the lamictal odt..

  • Brian Price

    I have had mood issues my entire life and am now 66. Periodic episodes of depression with mixed state stuff and complex PTSD which makes me flip out periodically. The combination is lovely – thanks God. It has affected every intimate relationship, but thankfully I’ve been functional at work, with friends (usually) and in other situations. I started Lamotrigine in mid June and it has been amazing! I came out of my depression, stopped being so irritable and angry, stopped the mixed episode/complex PTSD triggers. I am now happy, my wife is happy, and life is really good. Wish I had had this 50 years ago – my life would be very different in so many ways. No side effects now – did have weird dreams at first, but that’s gone away. My dreams are more happy now too. Before they were very dark, ominous, scary. Weird….

  • Brian Price

    P.S. My dosage is 100 mg – titrated to there from 25 mg over a 6 week period. I started seeing some benefits at 50 mg a month into the regime. But it took about 8 weeks for the full effect to arrive. Knowing that I can increase if needed is helpful.

  • Erica

    I just started lamotigine 25mg tablets zydus. I have been tried on about six differant meds for bi polar and deppresion done of them have seem to work I cannot concetrate I have mood swings I am depressed. I really hope this one will work. should I be taking anything along with it for ptsd?

  • Cecly

    I am 42 and have been dealing with Hypomania/ depression as long as I can remember, but was not diagnosed until I was 30ish. I have tried many many drugs. I was put on the generic Lamotrigine 20 mg with topamax and Loved how I felt. I had the word loss and tingles, but I finally felt human and happy. I could deal with anything rationally and calmly. I moved up to 40mg and still felt fine, until 2 days before I was to go to 60mg I broke out in a rash on my belly and itched all over my body. My pdoc took me off of it right away, and switched me to latuda which seems to do NOTHING for my depression at all. I am wondering if I should ask to stay at a lower dose or maybe try the name brand? I just know, until that point in time nothing ever seemed to work and for me I was also losing weight on it. (something I really needed to do.)

  • jac

    Hi, I have read some really helpful information here. I believe lamictal is causing hypomania. I was started on lamictal 3 weeks ago at 25mg titration up increasing dose every 2 weeks. Currently I’m at 50mg dose max goal of 75mg. When I started 03 it I was switched from Depakote 500 daily which was making me feel like I was being sucked into a big black whole my mood swings were put of control, I was having suicidal ideation and I was numb feeling evil inside. Two weeks after switching to lamictal I realized this med may work for my depression but then I couldn’t sleep and was restless, I had a huge “psychotic break” as I call it ending up inpatient psych. for 6 days with serious mood swing, aggression and suicidal ideations the lack of sleep made it worse. I was started on Geodon there and discharged feeling great, on top of the world. That’s the problem now back to not sleeping, can’t stop buying everything I want and I want everything I see, I’m so restless and hyper. I don’t know what to do I don’t see my pdoc in 2.5 weeks not sure to stop or keep taking it, I read that once you get to therapeutic dose those side effects will stop. Help!!

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