Is Lamictal bipolar treatment the new gold standard?
Is Lamictal medication really so wonderful? For some, yes!
Lamictal is a bipolar medication manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline with the generic name “lamotrigine.”
It is emerging as a new gold standard in treating bipolar disorder.
For long-term monotherapy mood stabilizers, clinical evidence strongly supports lithium > valproate > olanzapine > lamotrigine > quetiapine > carbamazepine as the best medicines.
Bipolar disorder used to be known by, perhaps the more accurate and descriptive name, manic-depression.
DO NOT lose sight of the fact that this illness is mainly characterized by MOOD SWINGS into MANIA or depression.
The ULTIMATE GOAL of treatment is for long term maintenance of stable moods, with as few mood swings as possible.
Lithium is the most studied treatment and known to be the best for preventing mania, BUT it is only WEAKLY EFFECTIVE for treating depression.
Lamictal is the MOST EFFECTIVE at preventing bipolar depression – usually in those patients already taking another medicine to prevent recurrent mania (i.e. lithium).
Zyprexa (olanzapine) is so strongly associated with weight gain and diabetes that it is not an ideal first choice.
Hence, the power and the proof of the Lamictal/Lithium combination.
“Findings suggest that the combination of lithium and lamotrigine may be particularly advantageous in long-term treatment.”
Lamictal effects revealed
In the US, the FDA has approved Lamictal medication for treating:
2. Maintenance treatment of Bipolar I Disorder
FDA approval of Lamictal for bipolar maintenance treatment as a mood stabilizer was a very big deal. It was the first medication to receive this approval since lithium – 30 years ago!
The important point is that the most impactful of Lamictal’s effects is preventing a relapse.
One study showed that patients who took Lamictal were free from relapses for 28 weeks. (A placebo was found to only prevent relapses for around 2 weeks.)
Another important finding suggests that Lamictal bipolar treatment may be mainly effective against depression as opposed to mania (this where the lithium or other anti-manic drugs come in).
This is significant because, as the chart shows, people with bipolar disorder typically spend much more time suffering from depression. Episodes of mania are relatively rare for many people.
“People with bipolar depression who take lamotrigine (Lamictal) are more likely to find that their symptoms get better or go away.”
From Consumer Reports
Lamictal medication – what YOU should know!
Another reason Lamictal is popular with doctors and consumers is because it is usually weight neutral. In fact, Lamictal has been shown to be associated with weight loss.
Can it be used for children and teenagers?
The manufacturers are very candid about the lack of evidence on Lamictal for younger patients.
“It is not known if LAMICTAL is safe or effective in children or teenagers under the age of 18 with mood disorders such as bipolar disorder or depression.”
The most common side effects are diarrhea, double vision, blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, and tiredness.
The risk of dangerous side effects such as suicidal ideation orself-harm thoughts from taking lamotrigine are considered very low.
HOWEVER, THERE IS ONE VERY SERIOUS SIDE EFFECT THAT CAN BE DEADLY!
We are talking about the notorious Lamictal rash.
The drug comes with a black box warning about developing a skin rash. This may indicate you have developed Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis – these can result in the sloughing of large surface areas of the skin and oral mucosa and may result in death.
Most of the time the rash is not a serious condition. Approximately 5% to 10% users will develop a rash, but only one in a thousand of these will be the serious rash.
Related pages: Abilify | Depakote | Geodon | Lithium | Seroquel | Topamax | Wellbutrin | Zyprexa