Lamotrigine (Lamictal)

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Lamotrigine, known by the brand name Lamictal, is an anticonvulsant medication which is used as a Mood Stabiliser. Lamotrigine is mainly used to treat epilepsy, however it can also be used for Bipolar Disorder and other mood disorders. Lamotrigine is often used for more milder types of Bipolar Disorder, especially if Lithium has failed to improve symptoms. Lamotrigine has helped many people control their symptoms. Lamotrigine is only available on prescription.

 

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It will take several days or even a few weeks for Lamotrigine to start working. It may take up to six months to find out if it is an effective long-term treatment. Lamotrigine should be used without interruption – you shouldn’t suddenly stop taking the medicine. The medicine should help control your symptoms.

 

It is unclear as to exactly how mood stabilisers work. It is believed that when an individual is going through a depressive or manic phase, that certain chemicals in the brain are unbalanced. These chemicals include the transmitters noradrenaline and dopamine – both of which are linked to regulating mood. Mood stabilisers are thought to help restore the balance in these chemicals – in the process stabilising an individual’s mood. Each different mood stabiliser has  intricate differences in operation, but they largely do the same thing.

 

 

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The recommended daily dose of Lamotrigine for use in treating Bipolar disorder is between 100mg and 400mg per day. Your doctor will advise you on how to take the tablets, you might need to split your daily dose into two sittings. You can take Lamotrigine with or without food. Swallow the tablets whole, and don’t chew or crush them. It is also possible to take Lamotrigine in a form which sees a tablet disintegrate in your mouth. The dosage will be the same. Ask your doctor for specific information. In any case, your doctor or mental health professional will tell you exactly how to take Lamotrigine. Lamotrigine is typically taken on a long term basis, with the exact timescale ranging from patient to patient.

 

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With each box of Lamotrigine, there will be an information leaflet enclosed. This will provide general information, along with an exhaustive list of side effects. Side effects from Lamotrigine shouldn’t last more than one or two weeks. It is natural to experience some side effects as your body gets used to the medication.

 

Cautions

A small number of people taking Lamotrigine will develop a highly serious skin problem. This problem is likely to develop in the first few months of treatment. Symptoms of such reactions include skin rashes or redness, ulcers, conjunctivitis, a high temperature or fever, vomiting or sensitivity to light. Among the problems at risk of being developed is Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

 

Common side effects of Lamotrigine include headaches, skin rash (minor), dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, agitation, tremors, a dry mouth and tiredness.

 

Serious side effects include an allergic reaction (rash, breathing problems, swelling), intense pain, jaundice, swelling, memory problems, seizures, irregular heart beats or involuntary movements. You should contact your doctor or an emergency service if any serious side effect, allergic reaction or life-threatening condition arises from taking this medication.

 

An overdose of Lamotrigine should be avoided. An overdose can lead to rapid and uncontrollable movements of the eye, fits, a coma, heartbeat changes and the possibility of death. If you have taken too much Lamotrigine, talk to a doctor or go to a hospital immediately. If possible, take the medicine with you.

 

 

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You are implored to read the Patient Information leaflet that will come with your medication, as it will include important information. You should tell your doctor or mental health professional about any other medicine you are taking.

 

A small number of people who have taken Lamotrigine have experienced an increase in suicidal ideation. If you have any of these thoughts, immediately withdraw from Lamotrigine and contact your doctor.

 

Some medicines can react unpredictably with Lamotrigine. These include, but aren’t limited to, other Anticonvulsants, antidepressantsantipsychotics, the herbal remedy St. John’s Wort, hormonal contraceptives, some antibiotics and medicines for HIV. This is not an exhaustive list – always ask your doctor for advice on combining medicines.

 

You shouldn’t suddenly stop taking Lamotrigine. There is a high probability of withdrawal symptoms taking place if you abruptly withdraw from the medicine. Therefore, unless your doctor specifically tells you to do so, do not suddenly withdraw from mood stabilisers. In the event you are to stop taking them, it is advised to slowly reduce the dose.

 

Drinking excessive alcohol can heighten the effect of mood stabilisers. Therefore, you should refrain from drinking excessive alcohol during treatment involving mood stabilisers.

 

It is recommended that you don’t use mood stabilisers during pregnancy. Taking mood stabilisers during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects, such as heart issues. Moreover, breastfeeding should be avoided when using Lamotrigine.

 

Lamotrigine cannot be used by adolescents. The only mood stabiliser prescribed to adolescents is Lithium.

 

The use of illegal or recreational drugs isn’t recommended during a treatment course involving mood stabilisers, as they can react unpredictably.

 

As always, ensure you read the information leaflet that comes with your tablets. And ask your mental health professional or doctor for any specific advice.

 

 

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Useful Articles:

 

Other Mood Stabilisers

 

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