Lamictal (lamotrigine) is used as both a mood stabilizer and anticonvulsant, or antiepileptic, medication. It is primarily used to prevent and/or control seizures in adults and children. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also approved it for treatment of disordered mood conditions. For some individuals, Lamictal may produce therapeutic effects for those experiencing depression, mania, anxiety, bipolar, borderline personality, and other conditions that cause fluctuations in mood. This drug may be obtained only with a doctor’s prescription.
Lamictal may be administered alone or in conjunction with other medications in order to prevent and manage tonic-clonic seizures, partial seizures, absence seizures, atonic seizures, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in adults and minors. This drug may also be used as a mood stabilizer, preventing extreme mood swings, especially in adults with bipolar I.
- How should I take this medication?
Lamicatal is available as a tablet, chewable tablet, orally disintegrating tablet, and as an extended release tablet. Your doctor will assist you in deciding which form of this medication is most beneficial for you. While chewable tablets may be chewed, regular tablets and extended release tablets should be swallowed whole. Chewing, biting, sucking, or crushing regular tablets or extended release tablets may result in too much medication being released into your system too quickly.
It is recommended that orally disintegrating tablets be placed on the tongue and dissolved in the mouth without chewing. Swallow as needed while the tablet disintegrates. A liquid may be used to help you swallow the dissolved tablet.
Lamictal may be taken with or without food. People usually begin by taking a low dose of this drug and slowly increase the dose over the following weeks. It may take several weeks before you experience the full effect of this medication.
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
Take the dose you missed as soon as possible. However, if you are close to the time for your next scheduled dose, then skip the missed dose completely and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose or take extra medication to make up for a missed dose.
- What should I do if I overdose on this medication?
Seek emergency medical care and contact a poison help line immediately. Symptoms of overdose include increased seizures, loss of coordination, lightheadedness, blurred vision, and fainting.
- Who should not take this medication?
People who experience allergic reactions to lamotrigine should not take Lamictal. Do not take Lamictal if you are currently taking valproic acid (Depakene) or divalproex (Depakote). Do not share this drug with another person, even if he or she has been diagnosed with the same medical issue.
- How can I get the most out of my treatment with Lamictal?
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- How should I store this medication?
Store Lamictal in a sealed container. Do not expose this medication to excess heat, moisture, or light. Orally disintegrating tablets should be kept in their original packaging.
Lamictal use may cause the onset of potentially fatal skin reactions such as DRESS (drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms) syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). Individuals under the age of 16 years are at a higher risk for developing serious skin rashes. People who develop a rash after using this medication—especially during the first two to eight weeks of treatment—should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
Lamictal may contribute to the onset of aseptic meningitis—an inflammation of the membranous covering of the brain and spinal cord. People who use this medication may also experience increased thoughts of suicide. Report any mood and behavior changes to your healthcare provider.
Talk to your doctor if you have a history of heart disease, kidney disease, suicidal thoughts, depression, or allergic reactions to other seizure medications. Let your doctor know if you are pregnant as a seizure experienced during pregnancy may be harmful to both the mother and the baby.
Tell your doctor about all the medications, dietary supplements, sleep aids, vitamins, minerals, or herbal products that you are currently taking as these may interact with Lamictal. Birth control pills may decrease the effectiveness of Lamictal, leading to an increase in seizures.
Lamictal, like many antiepileptic medications, poses health risks of which you should be aware. Carefully consider the following issues and recommendations:
- Speak to your doctor if you are pregnant or become pregnant during the course of treatment. Your doctor may recommend alternative treatments for your condition. Babies have an increased risk of being born with a cleft lip or cleft palate if this drug is taken during the early stages of pregnancy. As Lamictal may pass into breast milk, this drug may harm babies that breastfeed.
- Do not drive or operate heavy machinery while taking Lamictal as this drug may cause drowsiness, blurred vision, double vision, lack of coordinating, impaired thinking, and reduced reaction time.
- Lamictal may produce a false positive result during a drug screening test. If you are required to take a drug test, inform the testers that you are taking Lamictal.
- Always carry an ID card stating that you are taking Lamictal. If you plan to have surgery, inform your surgeon that you are taking this drug.
Inform your doctor if you experience any side effects after starting this medication. Common side effects include:
- Impaired vision
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Back pain
- Abdominal pain
- Dry mouth
- Lack of coordination
Do not stop taking Lamictal before speaking to your doctor. Seizures may return if you stop taking this medication suddenly. Your doctor will instruct you on how to taper off this medication without compromising your health.
- Drugs.com. (2015). Lamictal. Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/lamictal.html
- Mayo Clinic. (2015). Lamotrigine (oral route). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/lamotrigine-oral-route/description/drg-20067449
- MedicineNet.com. (n.d.). Lamotrigine - oral, lamictal. Retrieved from http://www.medicinenet.com/lamotrigine-oral/article.htm
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2013). Lamotrigine (lamictal). Retrieved from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Lamotrigine-(Lamictal)
- RxList.com. (2015). Lamictal. Retrieved from http://www.rxlist.com/lamictal-drug.htm
- United States Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Medication guide: Lamictal. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM152835.pdf
- WebMD.com. (n.d.). Lamictal. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-8486-7217/lamictal-oral/lamotrigine-oral/details
Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND
Last Update: 11-24-2015
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