Latuda for bipolar

///Latuda for bipolar

The FDA approval of Latuda for bipolar depression treatment is a big deal!

Why? Because until now, the only FDA approved bipolar depression medications were lithium and Seroquel (quetiapine), both of which are associated with significant complications.

So is Latuda any better?

Latuda (generic name lurasidone HCl) is a Japanese antipsychotic medication originally developed for treating schizophrenia. It has a milder side effect profile than Seroquel. For example, although Latuda does cause sleepiness and weight gain for some people, these unwanted effects tend to be milder than with Seroquel.

There is no definitive answer as to whether or not Latuda is really a “better” bipolar depression medication. Latuda for bipolar treatment is very welcome simply because most people with bipolar disorder spend far more time being depressed than manic, yet effective bipolar depression treatments are so few.

Until Latuda burst on the scene in 2013, the only options were the mood stabilizers lithium, Depakote and Lamictal, and the antipsychotic Seroquel. Tragically, many people were (and still are!!) treated with antidepressants such as SSRI style meds like Prozac and Zoloft. The SSRIs are NOT effective for bipolar depression and can trigger mania, making someone with bipolar even sicker.

With bipolar depression being such a horrible debilitating disease – not to mention potentially deadly due to the risk of suicide – ANY new treatment is good news indeed. However, remember that like all the atypical antipsychotics, Latuda was developed for treating schizophrenia. Using Latuda for bipolar can range from inappropriate to downright overkill as even full blown mania may not involve any kind of psychotic symptoms such as the hallucinations and delusions of schizophrenia.

Latuda and weight gain

Bipolar medications almost without exception cause weight gain. Any drug that effectively treats bipolar disorder WITHOUT causing weight gain is going to create a lot of excitement. The notion that Latuda is weight neutral was a big factor in Latuda’s successful debut.


But do the claims about Latuda and weight gain hold up?

Latuda has NOT been found to be weight neutral. The reality is that weight gain is clearly listed, even by the manufacturer, as a Latuda side effect.

On the other hand, the studies have shown that Latuda tends to lead to LESS weight gain that the other atypical antipsychotics.

To put this in perspective you need to understand two things:

  1. The biggest problem with using antipsychotics to treat bipolar disorder is that this entire class of drugs is associated with SUBSTANTIAL weight gain and associated problems, such as elevating cholesterol and blood sugar.
  2. People with bipolar disorder are ALREADY at a dramatically increased risk of premature death from heart disease and diabetes.

This creates a terrible paradox where physical health is sacrificed for mental health. It is not, as some insensitive medical practitioners suggest, simply a case of choosing to be “fat but happy” or “fat but sane” as the weight gain too often leads to premature death and/or severely compromised quality of life.

However, using Latuda for bipolar is definitely associated with LESS weight gain. Most people in trials did not gain weight, and those that did gained only around 7% of body weight. So a woman weighing around 130 lbs may go up to around 140 lbs. This is A LOT better than the 30, 40 or eevn 50 lb weight gain that can happen with Seroquel or Zyprexa!

Other Latuda side effects

In its clinical drug trials, 6% of people discontinued Latuda. In other words, one person in every 16-17 stopped taking the medication. At first glance, this sounds like a high number. It is easy to deduce these people quit Latuda because of unpleasant side effects.


However, in these same trials, 5% of the people taking the placebo (a sugar pill participants thought was Latuda but was really a completely inactive control) also quit. This means that only 1% more discontinued Latuda. This is actually a low rate.

Combined with the other drug trial results, researchers have been able to say with consistency and certainty that Latuda is a well tolerated drug with milder side effects than usual for an atypical antipsychotic.


Switching from lithium to Latuda


Remember, Latuda can be used on its own to treat bipolar depression as what is know as MONOtherapy, or it can be taken along with another medication such as lithium or Depakote as an add-on (adjunctive) therapy.

Because lithium use involves constant monitoring and can be difficult to tolerate long term, switching from lithium to Latuda alone may be appealing to some patients.

Just keep in mind that the FDA has NOT approved Latuda as a treatment for bipolar mania or as a bipolar maintenance treatment. Approving Latuda for bipolar depression was as far as the FDA would go. Some countries such as the UK, Australia and most of Europe have yet to give ANY approvals for Latuda.

In summary, switching from lithium to Latuda would be an experiment that should only be carried out with a doctor’s approval and only under that doctor’s close supervision. It would be particularly important to monitor for mania and anyone witha history of serious manic episodes would probably only want to use Latuda as an add-on to a mood stabilizer, not as a substitute.

Should YOU try Latuda for bipolar?

My own personal perspective is that I would NOT switch to Latuda. My reasons for not wanting to even try Latuda are:

  1. Anxiety is one of the most common side effects of Latuda and as I have panic disorder I am very reluctant to to use any medication that promotes anxiety.
  2. I have had to work very hard to manage my weight and bring down my cholesterol and blood sugar. I am genetically predisposed to diabetes and heart disease and do not want to add to this risk with a medication with these known side effects.
  3. My existing medications are currently working very well for me.
  4. My previous trials of atypical antipsychotics have NOT gone well.

BUT EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! For example, if you do not have anxiety problems or a high risk of heart disease, or if you have not yet found a good fit with another medication, your calculations will be very different from my own.

The point is that there is no definitive answer as to whether or not Latuda could be your best bet as a bipolar medication.

You can learn more about Latuda as a bipolar medication here.

2017-07-20T13:22:15+00:00 November 6th, 2015|Categories: Medications|38 Comments


  1. Jen November 20, 2016 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    I have a panic disorder, combined with bipolar II, and was recently prescribed Latuda after failed SSRI attempts over the years. I have only been on it a few days, and I do know that anxiety is a common side effect, BUT my psychiatrist said that in the long term, Latuda will actually HELP with the anxiety and panic. I’ll let you know if that’s how it works out!

    • Bianca May 22, 2017 at 3:31 am - Reply

      I’d love to know what your out come was. I hope you recieve this msg ?

    • stephen May 30, 2017 at 4:36 pm - Reply

      Looking for any updates from you, please!?

  2. Jan Sullins February 11, 2017 at 1:42 am - Reply

    Latuda has been quite effective for me however even with Medicare insurance it cost me over $400.00 per month. 30 40mg tablets ! Truly an outrage that this country allows pharmaceutical co.s to gouge us this way. Canada pharmacies have it available for under $250.00 without insurance. Still way too high!

    • Eleanor Harris March 15, 2017 at 9:45 am - Reply

      I received some discount cards from my doc that were provided by the manufacturer. My first month supply did not cost anything (I have some obamacare drug coverage, also). I expect that the next two months will also be free of out-of-pocket, but the next months may require me to pay a little more than $100 each month. If your doc can not provide these cards to you, I suggest you contact the manufacturer through their web site.

    • E June 7, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

      I shop at Walgreens, have TriCare Young Adult, and pay ~$30/month for 40 mg. Previously, I was uninsured, taking Abilify, which cost $600, so I quit medication until I was insured again.

      I am on Latuda and it works for my depression. However, I am shocked to learn that it does not treat mania, as I specifically asked my doctor about that during my last visit. I informed him that I needed something to treat mania since my understanding was that Latuda does not. He assured me it treated mania as well. I get a symptom that I call ‘brain itch”. It feels as though my head were tingling. And my manic episodes have been not-so-great for my wallet and well-being. My doctor either lied to me or does not know the medication he has prescribed for me.

    • jodi clausman November 28, 2017 at 11:22 am - Reply

      Have your doctor request a tier exception. They will deny the first time, so appeal the decision. More than likely you’ll get the tier exception. My doctor did this I pay $31 a month.

  3. Roger March 29, 2017 at 1:34 am - Reply

    I cant believe the health care system you guys have. We have medicare in Australia where everyone pays an extra 1.5% on their income tax and our hospitals and doctors and medicines are pretty much covered. i have been on Lamactil for many years as well as Pristiq but the Doctor thought Latuda might be worth a try for anxiety cost $37. So I have been researching it. I think I will give it a try – Sorry you guys have to pay so much for help!

    • Karen August 8, 2017 at 11:37 pm - Reply

      Hey Roger, I’m in Australia and had to pay $75 for one box. Where abouts can you get them for $35??
      Also, I took 1/2 tablet last night and experienced six hours of anxiety before only falling to sleep because I took an Amiltryptaline.
      I wonder if anyone else knows if this anxiety will go away?

    • Rachel S November 7, 2017 at 11:38 pm - Reply

      I’ve just started taking Latuda in Australia (for BP2 depression) and I’m curious how you’d be able to get it for $37? It’s only available on PBS as a treatment for schizophrenia and a private script costs around $77 through a discount chemist. Hopefully once the patent expires, generics will bring the price down, like they did with lamotrigine (which I also take for BP2 maintenance)

  4. charlene milkeyu April 11, 2017 at 3:54 pm - Reply

    What is a good adjunct medication for anxiety that is not resolved with latuda

    • Chris touhey September 4, 2017 at 2:26 pm - Reply

      Gabapentin is very helpful & also helps with nerve pain. Is non addictive

  5. Rhondalynn Tachibana April 25, 2017 at 5:01 am - Reply

    Latuda does not help at all for me i have major bipolar depression..and its nit doing a thing but making me can weight and feeling worse

  6. Brian April 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    Hi I am diagnosed as Bi-Polar II, but I’m really Borderline personality disorder, regardless, I’m switching back from Rexulti to Latuda. Although Latuda, did nothing for my depression and my psychosis is under better control with Rexulti also, the weight gain is not tolerated well by myself. Latuda caused no significant weight gain but with only 1 mg of Rexulti, I’m unable to maintain, my weight just stays.

  7. Jayne L Boot April 29, 2017 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    They have a $15/MONTH card.

  8. Sylvie Gagne April 30, 2017 at 9:01 am - Reply

    OMG, Latuda was awful. I was itchy all over. I don’t understand why it’s not listed as a side effect. I also could not sleep. It made me more manic.

    • Hope October 17, 2017 at 1:11 am - Reply

      I am currently only on day 2 of Latuda and was also feeling itchy all over and well.. Here I am wanting to sleep but can’t.. I am going into mania… I can just feel it.. So now what? Any updates?

  9. Kimberly May 15, 2017 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    I gained thirty lbs and it won’t come off. It also triggers my panic attacks. It has helped my mood significantly.

  10. Tasha May 18, 2017 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    Just started Latuda last night at 9pm. Since about 1030am today, I am experiencing a severe headache, slight confusion, and nausea. I have bp depression along with severe anxiety. I feel panicky. I’m waiting on Dr to call me back. So far, I do NOT like this drug.

  11. Fredric June 3, 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    I have used Lithium ion drugs for about 16 years, just (five minutes ago) started using 18.5mg per day of Latuda as I’m in a rather long slump (depression). It will be interesting to see what effects it has. Have tried Seroquel before but got very tired from it so I stopped that and other new prescription drugs as well but side effects have been really bad and not much benefit – if any. We’ll see what happens, maybe “sudden death from heart disease” which is listed as a side effect… 😛

  12. Roxie June 11, 2017 at 4:20 am - Reply

    Latuda has helped with depression but when i increased from 20mg to 40mg i have increased anxiety and strange feelings when waking up from sleep. I also take 1000mg of sodium valproate for bi-polar type ll . I have woken up in panic and have been more irrritable when i increase to 40mg, so im staying on 20mg, my sleep pattern has always been unbearable but waking up in fear isnt very nice,,

  13. Ruth June 30, 2017 at 3:56 pm - Reply

    I have been on Latuda and for me it feels like a wonder drug. I was on Tegretol for the last five years, which kept me stable but did nothing for depression. I do have psychotic features with my manic episodes, so that part of Latuda makes me feel safer, in that the most disturbing part of this illness for me is the psychosis. I have shed the 5 lbs that I put on over the winter and I have minimal side effects, if any, so far. No anxiety and I did experience anxiety and bad panic attacks while taking Abilify. So once again, I see that each person responds differently to different medications. The only complaint I have is the outrageous cost of this medication.

    • Lacey November 27, 2017 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      I agree. My cost is 1200.00!!!!!

  14. Cindy Baller July 18, 2017 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    I’ve been taking 20 mg of Latuda for 8 days. I’m also on 60 mg of Prozac ( was taking 40 mg for years. )Have been taking Wellbutrin for a few months. Started out at 100 mg and now I’m taking 150 mg. I can honestly say that I feel less depressed and not anxious. I think they finally have me on the right combination of meds. So far I am happy with how I am feeling and in general feel more active. I am bipolar and experience panic attacks. Those have been under control with Prozac for years now. I suggest some of you tell your Psychiatrist about these 3 meds together. I feel confident that I am going to get better. Bless and good vibes to all that have these debilitating symptoms.

  15. trish jones July 21, 2017 at 11:20 am - Reply

    i have been on latuda for about a year I have maniac bipolar and do not sleep, have gained 20 pounds and it won’t come off, however i am calmer and not so prone to go off the deep end and stupid stuff. The only time i had anxiety was when my father died, who wouldn’t? BEING ABLE TO SLEEP IS UNBELIEVABLE. I am liking this drug. don’t like the weight thing but ill figure something out.

    • Bipolar Lives Staff July 26, 2017 at 6:00 am - Reply

      Glad that the medicine is working for you and you’re able to sleep. Make sure to check out my Bipolar Diet eBook that talks how to properly manage your weight. Best of luck
      Sarah and Team.

  16. Laurence September 6, 2017 at 7:48 am - Reply

    I have been on Latuda for bipolar II for around 8 months now. It has seemingly worked well and let me come off the Risperidone I was on, plus gotten rid of Zoloft. But, I have just moved back to the UK after a long time in Canada, and the doctors have said they are not allowed to prescribe it for bipolar. I have no idea what is going to happen now as I run out of the medication very soon.

  17. Jan Sullins September 7, 2017 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    I wanted to update my experience with Latuda after 7 months. My depression is mostly gone . In fact I think my mood is basically normal. I take 40 mg at each night . Side effects have been acceptable with perhaps a little extra anxiety but not really a problem. Also I don’t sleep as much as I would like but again not really a big problem. I found a pharmacy in Canada where I buy my Latuda for $150.00 for 30 tablets 40 mg no shipping charges. Also my psychiatrist has provided a 2 month supply so my expense has been quite low. No weight gain. Overall this meditation has been a life changer.

    • Hope October 17, 2017 at 1:13 am - Reply

      What do you mean? Not sleeping as much? Are you then hypomanic? I am type 1 and am very concerned as this is day 2 and I am already losing sleep… I am so so worried that this pill is going to drive me into mania…

  18. KC September 10, 2017 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    I have been on Latuda for 2 years. It has helped my bipolar depression immensely. I still have days I am depressed but I have had no major depressive episodes. This medicine has been a game changer. I tried Seroquel and Lamictal before Latuda and didn’t have any luck there. I have gained some weight but having my sanity is totally worth it.

  19. Shanna September 11, 2017 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Okay so I am going to start my new medication today I claim healing in the name of Jesus except that I have to take this medication 2bwell my number one goal is to have a healthy family and I know that starts with me Lamotrigine 200 mg and Latuda 20 mg 10000 IU’s of vitamin Dee vitamin B complex fish oil and Centrum vitamin water and learn diet proper diet for all this mental illness crap

  20. Cliff October 2, 2017 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Bipolar I. I started Latuda (20mg) about 2 weeks ago. I upped the dosage to 40mg a few days ago per my pdoc’s recommendation.

    So far, it seems like it helps with my general mood (although I still have “episodes”, usually mixed state). Unfortunately, it also makes me very drowsy and restless. I could live with the drowsiness (I often have trouble getting to sleep anyway), but the restlessness is untenable. I literally can’t keep my eyes open, yet can’t sit or lie still long enough to go to sleep, so I end up pacing around for a couple hours until I finally just collapse.

    I had a similar experience with Abilify (restlessness, not drowsiness). I’m hoping this is a temporary adjustment period, but if it doesn’t improve I’ll likely have to ditch this med too.

    Just as a datapoint, my copay was only $80 for a month’s supply of the 20mg pills.

  21. Deep October 2, 2017 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Latuda is the BEST medication I have ever tried and has done wonders for my bipolar depression. I take 30 mg (using a pill cutter on a 40 mg tablet). The 40 mg was too much and started to cause an internal agitation/restlessness an hour after taking my nightly dose. This side effect started to become too much to deal with on the 40 mg. The 30 mg dose seems ideal and avoids the internal restlessness/agitation feeling while still maintaining all its benefits. This has been a miracle pill for me and has not resulted in any weight gain whatsoever. I did initially have some nausea when I first started it but it quickly went away after about a week. I also want everyone to know that I would occasionally use CBD to deal with irritability before I was on Latuda. I had tried the CBD with the Latuda and found that it INCREASED the internal agitated/restlessness feeling. This is because CBD effectively increases the blood levels of Latuda by inhibiting the liver enzymes which metabolize Latuda. Taking CBD EFFECTIVELY INCREASES THE DOSE OF LATUDA THAT YOU ARE TAKING AND HENCE THE SIDE EFFECTS AS WELL via this mechanism, something everyone should know about. If you use CBD, YOU MUST adjust the dose of Latuda accordingly.

  22. Holly October 7, 2017 at 6:00 am - Reply

    I am taking Latuda 20mg for over 2 weeks and so far my results have been amazing! I was diagnosed Bipolar II and i am not taking anything else along side Latuda. I know 20 mg is the low dose but i am very sensitive to substances so i wanted to keep it low even when my doctor suggested boosting it to 40mg. Anyway, my depression is ALMOST non existent already, i still experience hypomania but it doesnt last as long as it used to. I’ve been getting a better sleep because i am able to sleep and for the most part stay asleep. My anxiety has reduced a lot. I feel like i can think more clearly and my emotions aren’t so all over the place, everything seems stable enough to function like a normal person! The down sides of course is i get fidgety and restless and my muscles are tense.

  23. Jen October 7, 2017 at 8:47 am - Reply

    I have been on Latuda, 20mg, for Bipolar II for almost a year. I also have anxiety and panic attacks. First couple of months were rough figuring out the dosage that worked best. At one point I was on 60mg. The worst side effect I noticed was extreme, uncontrollable irritability. Not like me at all. At 20mg I can maintain stability without the irritability. I did complain after about 5 months that I felt very flat-i was missing true joy and excitement. My doc put me on 20mg of Vyvanse and that with the Latuda works well for me.

  24. William October 25, 2017 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    I have been on Latuda for a little over a yr now. I must say the effect is unbelievable. After 22 years of trying every medication in either Mono therapy or combo therapy, I have found one that works well and far greater than expected. I am Bipolar manic depressive schizophrenic with border;line mood and personality disorders and AALLL of that is under control for the past 2 years.The doctor prescribed 80mg of latuda with a child’s dose of Zyprexa(2.5mg at bed time)..The Zyprexa covers the anxiety and the Latuda does the rest. I have gained about 25lb but will trade that for continued stability any day. I do hope those of you still struggling with a good medication regimen will soon find what works well for you..Keep up the good fight,

  25. Ashton October 31, 2017 at 2:34 am - Reply

    My doctor gave me 40mg of latuda & I haven’t taken it yet. I’ve been taking serequel for about 8 months & at first it worked but made me super drowsy. Now that it’s in my system it doesn’t work as great. I’ve gained a lot of weight from serequel as well. I have severe anxiety & I have awful panic attacks. I wonder if Latuda could maybe stop all that? Or atleast calm me down. I haven’t taken it yet because I hate taking medicine & I’m always afraid of allergic reactions & dying from it. I worry way to much. If anyone could give me an honest opinion on the medicine that would be great.

  26. dino November 17, 2017 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Bipolar depression my whole life. I am 63. With age, my condition got worse. Different drugs came and went some were successful, for awhile. Then 2 years ago my doctor put me on 40 MG a day. My life has changed.i am so grateful for Latuda. Not 1 depressive episode since.

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