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!


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

  • Sigga

    Hey you guys, glad I found this page. I have bipolar and I have been taking lamotrigin, ( I live in Denmark and I am pretty sure it is the same medicine as lamictral ) so anyways I take 500mg and my doctor has been very adamant about increasing my medicine very slowly and I have been going for endless blood work. Now, the side affects are mild,some confusion, memory loss, sluggish when I take it in the morning. But what is driving me crazy is that my sex drive is almost nonexistent. And it takes me a long time to reach an orgasm, most of time I get so frustrated that I stop.Please,please tell me this will pass. I don’t want to change my Medication for the 50th time. Keeping my fingers crossed ?

  • Lena

    Wait to Go Julie!I was getting ready to cuss him out on everybody’s behalf. Thus website helped me in making one of the most difficult for decisions of my life! 250mg, Happy & Strong! You Rock!!!!

  • Scott

    Hi Julie,

    First, thank you so much for your tireless efforts to create a platform for like-minded people to get together. Your dedication the illness is greatly appreciated. Now, I could really use some advice! I’ll try to make this as concise as possible.

    I have been treated for MDD and GAD for 8 years with very minimum success. I was recently off all meds for 5 months, and need this time to realize I am most likely Bipolar II. This is based on a history of hypomanic episodes as well as mixed states. My doctor tends to agree although the diagnosis is not “official”.

    I do a lot of research on meds and decided lamictal would be my first choice. My doc brought this med up without me mentioning it so we’re on the same page. I also have klonopin (which doesn’t do much) to help during the titrating of lamictal (actually Lamotragine). Before starting lamictal I was in an agitated, depersonalized, hypomanic state. Noise sensitivity was also very bothersome. The first couple days on 25mg of lamotragine were pretty great; pretty happy and excited to begin this journey–even sleep improved slightly. Into my fourth day now I am finding the noise sensitivity almost unbearable. ANY noise will set me off; cupboards shutting, the sound of my footsteps, typing on a keyboard and on and on. I’m not sure if the lamotragine is making this worse. Any thoughts on this? If it’s a temporary side-effect I will gladly tough it out till I reach a therapeutic dose. The noises make me irritable and put me in a bad mood. I think antipsychotics have helped this in the past but am VERY hesitant to add one for two reason; I’d like to see what lamictal will do on its on, and the weight gain from seroquel and zyprexa was intolerable in the past. Sorry for the length! Any advice would be GREATLY appreciated. Again, sincere thanks.

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