Long-term use of Lamictal?
March 31, 2010 10:30 AM   Subscribe

How long can I stay on Lamictal?

I've been on lamotrigine (Lamictal) for bipolar depression since 2003, following harrowing years in which I tried every SSRI, mood stabilizer and antipsychotic known to man, followed by ECT and hospitalization. It is my wonder drug. It's completely changed my life. So, how long can I stay on it? I asked my pdoc back in 05, and he didn't know -- since it's not been around for a long period of time. I've been getting it from my regular GP since 06, and the only thing he'd heard was that it can bind to the melanin in your irises, so I should get my eye doctor to "keep an eye on it." So.. any other Lamictal/lamotrigine takers out there? Have you had any advice about long term use?
posted by media_itoku to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've been on Lamictal since... 2006 or so? (maybe 2005). My psychiatrist never said anything about worrying how long I'm on it. Like you, it changed my life. (I am also on an antidepressant and an antipsychotic). Because of that, I will probably keep taking it even if there are significant risks.

I'll be interested to see the answers to this.
posted by marble at 10:49 AM on March 31, 2010

I've been on it for years in combination with a pile of Lithium and Seroquel (having had a similar years-long trial and error nightmare with other drugs/combinations)-- but I've never heard anything about long term use issues for lamotrigine. I got the original prescription about 5 years ago and have had it re-prescribed by four different psychiatrists since then and none have said anything about long-term damage. I've found it to be life-changing as well.
posted by mireille at 10:49 AM on March 31, 2010

What marble and mireille said. Been taking it since 2007, never heard anything about long-term use. Interesting comment about the eyes, I should get that checked out.
posted by desjardins at 10:53 AM on March 31, 2010

I have also been on it since 2005 with no advice against long term usage. I guess we'll all find out together 20 years from now if it's a bad idea.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:57 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yes. Wonder drug for me too. Since 2007. (I thought I had it bad with 15 years of drugs/etc that didn't work, but now I count my blessings it wasn't worse.. I'm sorry to hear that your road has been harrowing like that. Best wishes.)

Here's my experiences:
1) Doc ramped up the dose slowly at first to avoid very-low-risk but potentially catastrophic Stevens-Johnson syndrome. At each increase, had mild facial flushing and night sweats;after a few days this would stop.
2) The few times I've forgotten to take it, within 18-24 hours I got pressure behind my eyes and a lot of dizziness with any head motion. Went away within an hour or two of taking it again.
3) Hellacious dry mouth the whole time I've been taking it.

Basically, nothing significant, although my dentist is concerned about the dry mouth contributing to gum/teeth problems.

Curious to hear if anyone else has experienced any of this. Thanks.
posted by buzzv at 11:24 AM on March 31, 2010

I've been taking it since 2005. I've been advised to keep taking it through my pregnancy, but to up my folic acid intake to 5mg / day, as my doctor said that it could diminish folic acid levels in the body. I don't know what I would do without it and I hope I never have to go off. Like everyone else so far, I've heard nothing about long-term use.

buzzv: If I forget to take it, within 4-6 hours my vision gets fuzzy and I feel very anxious. Occasionally I get some facial flushing (rash on my forehead temples and shoulders). I'm not sure why but I've always suspected the lamictal.
posted by kitcat at 11:32 AM on March 31, 2010

I got an absolutely crazy-ass rash from hip to knee on my outer thigh; in the AM it was red and splotchy, by late afternoon it was getting darker and the splotches almost looked bruised. Naturally I freaked out (having gotten the SJS lecture), called my pdoc, he met me in the ER of the hospital his practice is in (I think out of curiosity than anything else), I had bloodwork done and it turned out to be... nothing. Supposedly some kind of allergic reaction. The splotchies disappeared in a few days, but itched like craaaaaazy. The pdoc and ER doc said they'd never seen anything like it and took photos, which made me feel special. That was during the 150mg to 300mg/day increase, stayed on it at 300 because it changed. my. life.

No problems since other than dry mouth. I'm dying to hear more about the melanin-iris binding anecdote though- any more info on that (too lazy to do a medline search just now)?.
posted by variella at 12:03 PM on March 31, 2010

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