Lamotrigine for anxiety & depression.

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Is lamotrigine (lamictal) right for you?

There are many different types of medications for bipolar disorder, and it’s important to find the one that’s right for you. At Brightside, we’re here to help. Our providers are knowledgeable about each type of medication for bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression and specialize in finding the best fit for your individual needs.

As part of your treatment, your provider may recommend an anticonvulsant/antiepileptic medication called lamotrigine to help you feel better. Lamotrigine is commonly used as a maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder, often in combination with other bipolar disorder medications. Below, we offer some helpful information about lamotrigine so you can work with your provider to determine if it’s right for you and make an informed decision about your care.

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Mimi Winsberg, MD

Chief Medical Officer
Stanford-trained Psychiatrist with 25 years of practice

Get a lamotrigine prescription and ongoing anxiety & depression care for only $95 / month.

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Then measure your progress with regular check-ins to monitor your symptoms and make adjustments until your treatment is right for you.

Everything you need to know about lamotrigine

What is lamotrigine, and how does it work?

Lamotrigine, commonly sold under the brand name Lamictal, is a prescription drug used to manage seizures in people with epilepsy, but it also has a special use if you have bipolar disorder. Our providers at Brightside prescribe lamotrigine to decrease extreme mood changes if you have bipolar disorder and your mood swings are mostly stabilized. It’s not used to treat the actual severe manic or depressive episodes—it’s usually taken in addition to other medications that treat bipolar disorder symptoms.

The medication is anticonvulsant or antiepileptic and works by decreasing abnormal electrical activity in your brain to help delay the recurrence of manic and depressive episodes.

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What conditions does lamotrigine treat?

When you work with Brightside, you can be confident our providers have the experience to help you decide what’s right for you. You get personal attention and information about all your treatment options. We make sure you understand how your medication works and what to expect so that you participate in all your care decisions and feel confident about your treatment.
Lamotrigine is approved by the FDA to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder, especially bipolar depression, in adults age 18 and older.

At Brightside, we use lamotrigine if you have bipolar disorder that is stabilized, and we want to help you maintain a balanced mood. This maintenance treatment is usually combined with other medications that regulate bipolar mood swings.

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What symptoms can lamotrigine help reduce?

Lamotrigine helps keep your mood stabilized and delays episodes of extreme mood changes, including:

  • Depression symptoms, such as sadness, hopelessness, changes in sleep, difficulty concentrating, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Mania symptoms, including extreme excitability, excessive energy, feeling distracted, racing thoughts, and engaging in risky or dangerous activities

Your Brightside provider specializes in finding the right balance of medication to manage your symptoms and help you feel your best.

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Will lamotrigine work for me?

We understand you may be wondering whether this medication will work for you. It’s a common question, and we’ll work together with you to find the answer. Many different factors influence how you respond to medication. Keep in mind that some medications work better for certain people than others. Each person is different—genetics, age, and gender, among other differences—so your response to lamotrigine may be different from someone else’s response. Other factors such as underlying health conditions, other medications, and dietary considerations can also play a role in how a medication helps your symptoms.

At Brightside, we help take the guesswork out of creating an effective treatment plan. That means we evaluate which medications and dosages have the best chance of helping you feel better with minimal side effects.

Typically, your provider will have you start with a low dose of lamotrigine and gradually increase it over several weeks to monitor how you feel and see if it’s holding off periods of extreme moods. We understand you want to see results right away, but we want to make sure your treatment plan is tailored to your exact needs. Your health and safety are our top priority.

Remember, lamotrigine is used to help stabilize your moods—it won’t cure bipolar disorder. It may take several weeks until you feel a difference. Whether you notice a difference or not, it’s essential to continue taking the medication. Please don’t stop taking it or make any changes without talking to your doctor first—even if you notice unusual differences in your mood.

Abruptly stopping the medicine can cause seizures, so it’s vital to talk to your provider if you have any concerns. If you stop taking lamotrigine, it’s critical to get advice from your provider before restarting your prescription. Your provider will tell you how to start again safely.

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How long do people generally take lamotrigine?

You may wonder how long you should take lamotrigine as part of your treatment for bipolar disorder, but it’s different for everyone. It will depend on your diagnosis and specific symptoms. You and your provider will decide together how long you should take it. If you have any concerns at any time, your Brightside provider is here for you. We want you to feel confident about your treatment and participate in all decisions related to your care plan.

Lamotrigine is started at a low dose and gradually increased over several weeks to get the maximum benefit. It’s safe to take for an extended period when taken as prescribed, as long as your provider closely monitors your care. Typically, your provider will check your progress after taking the medicine for more than 16 weeks to determine its long-term effectiveness.

Most importantly, we want you to keep taking your medicine until your doctor says it’s time to stop – even after you start to feel better.

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How effective is lamotrigine?

To get the best results with medication, it’s important to consistently measure progress during treatment. This is known as Measurement Based Care, and it’s the approach we use at Brightside. It’s common to adjust the dose when starting a new medication until you find just the right fit.

Lamotrigine is safe and effective when it’s used as directed. There are no known problems with long-term use.

A placebo-controlled trial in patients with bipolar disorder showed the medication’s effectiveness as a well-tolerated maintenance treatment, especially for preventing depression.

It’s most beneficial in helping you maintain a balanced, stable mood once your mood swings are under control. If you are experiencing actual episodes of mania or depression, lamotrigine has not been shown to be effective. You’ll need other medications to help you recover from these episodes. Lamotrigine is in a class of medications called anticonvulsants. It works by decreasing abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

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Does lamotrigine change my personality?

If you decide to take lamotrigine, you don’t have to worry about it changing who you are. It’s intended to make your emotions and moods more balanced and stable, but it doesn’t change your personality. The goal is to let you feel more like yourself when you’re at your best.

Are there side effects associated with lamotrigine?

You will get the best results if you take lamotrigine exactly as your provider prescribes. Your Brightside provider may adjust your dosage to help you achieve the maximum benefit with the fewest side effects.

Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Back pain
  • Balance and coordination problems
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash
  • Sleep problems
  • Sore throat and stuffy nose
  • Stomach pain
  • Tremors

In some instances, it may cause more severe side effects, including serious skin rashes, allergic reactions, low blood cell counts, and extreme mood changes. If the symptoms seem life-threatening, call 911. For other symptoms, please contact your provider. If at any point you have questions or concerns about your medication, your Brightside provider is here to help.

At Brightside, your health and safety are our highest priorities. We make sure you get individual attention and guidance to make sure you feel your best.

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Does lamotrigine have withdrawal symptoms?

Your Brightside provider will prescribe you lamotrigine to help you feel better. After you start to feel these positive effects, you may want to stop taking the medication. However, if you suddenly stop taking lamotrigine, it can cause serious problems—including seizures and worsening of bipolar disorder symptoms that may need immediate attention. That’s why it’s so important to continue taking your medication until your provider tells you otherwise, whether you feel better or not.

When you and your Brightside provider decide it’s time to stop taking lamotrigine, your provider will tell you how to reduce your dose gradually and avoid withdrawal symptoms.

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Can I take lamotrigine during pregnancy or while nursing?

If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, please talk to your provider before making any medication changes.

Lamotrigine has been associated with an increased risk of oral cleft birth defects in infants. Animal research studies have shown when mothers are given this medicine, it can harm the fetus. It also passes into your breast milk. If you are taking lamotrigine while breastfeeding, watch your baby closely for signs of stopped breathing, extreme sleepiness, and reduced sucking ability.

Your Brightside provider will discuss all the benefits and risks of taking lamotrigine and all your treatment options. Together, you’ll decide what’s best for you.

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Is lamotrigine addictive?

Lamotrigine isn’t addictive, but it’s essential to continue taking it as prescribed to prevent unwanted side effects that can happen if you stop. If you have any concerns about taking your medication, please talk to your provider first. They can make any needed changes to your dosage safely and prevent unexpected side effects.

What does the FDA say about lamotrigine?

You can view the FDA black box warning for lamotrigine here. If you have questions about whether the black box warning for lamotrigine applies to you, please talk to your provider.

Conditions we treat with lamotrigine

Brightside Psychiatric Providers prescribe lamotrigine alongside other medicines to treat conditions including:
  • Bipolar disorder
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