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Lamictal Withdrawal Symptoms

Lamictal Withdrawal Symptoms

If you have been living with certain medical conditions or mental health concerns, Lamictal is a mental health medications that may be able to ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life. But before you take it, you should be aware of its possible drawbacks as well as its potential benefits. For example, Lamictal has been associated with a variety of distressing side effects. Also, if you decide to stop using this medication, you could develop Lamictal withdrawal symptoms.

What Is Lamictal?

Lamictal is the brand name of a prescription medication that is typically used to treat seizures and bipolar disorder. It is usually taken orally in tablet form.

The active ingredient in Lamictal is lamotrigine, which is an anticonvulsant. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Lamictal as a seizure medication in 1994. In 2003, the FDA expanded its approval of Lamictal to include maintenance therapy for patients who have bipolar I disorder. 

When incorporated into treatment for bipolar disorder, Lamictal can delay the onset of manic, hypomanic, and major depressive episodes.

In the U.S., doctors sometimes use Lamictal on an off-label basis for a variety of other conditions, including migraines with auras, binge-eating disorder, and panic disorder.

What Side Effects Can Lamictal Cause? What are Lamictal Withdrawal Symptoms?

The possibility of developing Lamictal withdrawal symptoms isn’t the only concern that you should be aware of when considering this medication.

As is the case with virtually every other prescription drug, Lamictal can cause an array of side effects. In some rare cases, these effects can be severe and potentially life-threatening.

The following are examples of Lamictal’s more common side effects:

  • Headache
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Weight loss

Lamictal use may also lead to more serious side effects, such as:

  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Severe skin rash
  • Aseptic meningitis (inflammation of the brain lining)
  • Suicidal thoughts

In August 2018, the FDA issued a warning that Lamictal use could result in a “rare but very serious reaction” called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). This condition, which involves uncontrolled activity of the immune system, can lead to inflammations throughout the body. In the absence of effective treatment, HLH can be fatal. 

In the 24 years between the FDA’s initial approval of Lamictal and their issuance of this warning, the organization reported that it had identified eight “confirmed or suspected” cases of HLH related to the medication.

Recommended: SSRI Withdrawal Symptoms

Lamictal Withdrawal Symptoms

The effects that we described in the previous section can occur as a result of taking Lamictal. The Lamictal withdrawal symptoms in this section can occur when a person suddenly stops using the medication.

The nature and severity of a person’s withdrawal symptoms can be influenced by a variety of factors, including:

  • Their age, weight, and metabolism
  • How long they have been using the medication
  • How much of the medication they have been taking
  • If they have also been using other legal or illicit substances
  • If they have any co-occurring physical or mental health concerns

With those caveats in mind, here are some of the more common symptoms of Lamictal withdrawal:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Recurrence of symptoms that Lamictal had suppressed
  • Shakiness
  • Vivid nightmares
  • Anhedonia (inability to experience joy or pleasure)
  • Dysphoria (general sense of dissatisfaction or unease)
  • Mood swings
  • Anger
  • Hostility
  • Disrupted ability to concentrate or focus
  • Brain zaps

How to Safely Withdraw from Lamictal

You can avoid (or at least minimize) Lamictal withdrawal symptoms by taking a few simple yet important steps.

First, you should never stop using Lamictal or any other prescription medication without first consulting with your physician. Your doctor can work with you to develop a plan to end your Lamictal use in the least disruptive manner.

A plan for safely withdrawing from Lamictal will likely involve a slow, gradual reduction in the amount of the medication that you take each day. Weaning yourself from Lamictal this way will give your body time to adapt to the reduced presence of the drug. 

If you experience any withdrawal symptoms while you are tapering your Lamictal use, your healthcare provider may be able to offer medical and/or therapeutic support. 

Also, as you eliminate any remaining Lamictal from your system, your healthcare provider can also take appropriate steps to prevent a recurrence of the symptoms that caused you to take the medication in the first place.

Alternatives to Lamictal

If you have been taking Lamictal to help you manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and you want to stop taking it, be sure to carefully evaluate all your options before you make a final decision.

Lamictal is one of several medications that can be beneficial for people who have bipolar disorder. The list of other meds that can be used to treat bipolar disorder includes antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and some other anticonvulsants. 

Here are just a few of the many possible medication alternatives to Lamictal:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Carbamazepine (Carbatrol)
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Lithium
  • Lurasidone (Latuda)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Quetiapine fumarate (Seroquel) 
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Valproic acid (Depakene)

These medications offer different benefits and pose different risks, so not all of them will be suitable for you. 

As is so often the case in discussions of mental health treatment, it is important to remember that there’s no single “right” medication to treat bipolar disorder. Your healthcare provider’s goal should be to fully assess your needs, discuss how you have been impacted by bipolar disorder, and then select the medication that seems like the best fit for you. 

Finding the right medication and the right dosage can take some time and involve careful trial and error. This underscores the importance of finding a treatment provider who will work closely with you, listen to your feedback, and take your concerns seriously.

Find Mental Health Help in Atlanta

If you are seeking quality mental health treatment in a safe and welcoming environment, Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry may be the right place for you.

At our center in Atlanta, Georgia, we believe that your mental healthcare options should not be limited to medication and talk therapy. Our approach incorporates a dynamic array of innovative outpatient services, all of which can be customized to best address your specific needs.

To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Appointment page or call us today.

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