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|21 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.

  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!

  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

  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.

  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.

  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. 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.

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