Lamotrigine (Lamictal) is from a class of drugs know as ‘anti-convulsants” or anti-epileptics. They are also used regularly as mood stabilisers for conditions such as bipolar and schizoaffective disorder. No one quite know how they work for mood but they are considered first-line treatments along with lithium. Lamotrigine needs to be prescribed by a specialist, such as a neurologist or a psychiatrist.
I’ve been on lamotrigine for a loooong time, far before I had a manic episode. The main reason for this is that I have epilepsy. I remember being in the neurologist’s office, I’d just been diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy and the appointment passed in a shocked blur, I’d only began having seizures in my very early 20s. He handed me over the medication with a big warning to titrate up slowly and watch out for rashes. Most people on lamotrigine have heard about the dreaded rash. Although it is known for causing benign rashes, some people develop what is known as Steven-Johnson syndrome, which is characterised by “flu-like symptoms, followed by a painful red or purplish rash that spreads and blisters”, and can be fatal. I started small and inched up over time.
I noticed some side effects pretty much straight away, some itchiness (but no rashes), some major dizziness and double vision but they settled pretty quickly. What seemed to linger though, and was the most problematic, was brain fog. I started to forget how to spell things, I couldn’t talk fluidly, my memory was shocking and my concentration suffered. Although I don’t know how I’d be without lamotrigine now, it does seem to have settled over the years (though I still sometimes get stuck on words!).
Originally put on a high dose of lamotrigine for seizures, these settled at 300mg. What was apparent though, was that it wasn’t stopping my mania. Lamotrigine is a good mood stabiliser but it’s more effective in treating depression than it is mania (whereas lithium is the other way round). I was put on abilify for its antipsychotic but also mood stabilising effects and put up to 350mgs. I haven’t had mania since being at these doses so I suspect they’re working, though I don’t know which one more!
Oh, and just a side note; these are the most vile tasting tablets I have ever taken in my life, and they get stuck in your throat.
Does anyone else take lamotrigine? How do you find it affects you?