HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Carbamazepine

Return to Carbamazepine overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
Katie louise listing
Treating bipolar, depression and anxiety
If I could go back in time to before I started taking meds, I would tell myself to persevere as things will get better, even if it doesn’t feel that way.

Carbamazepine can be used to treat the following conditions

Headmeds fills the medicines information gaps for young people - things you might want to know about meds like will it affect my sex life? Can I still study?  Can I drink?
Headmeds does not give medical advice so this is just general information.
Each medicine has a balance of good and bad effects, and each person gets their own individual effects.
You might want to know just one thing about your medicine, but on each page we have given you the ‘safety headlines’. Please read them as they are important.
We have included lots of information about each medicine - but if you want all the details, please look at the patient information leaflet - which is inside every pack. These leaflets are also at www.medicines.org.uk - where there will be the most up-to-date information.

Safety headlines

  • If you have taken more carbamazepine than it said on the label, you must see a doctor quickly – even if you do not feel any different.
  • Whilst taking carbamazepine some people may think about hurting or killing themselves. You must go straight to hospital with your tablets if you have any of these thoughts.
  • If you get a rash just after starting to take carbamazepine, especially if you are from a Han Chinese or Thai family, you must stop the tablets and see a doctor straight away. You may get a fever, headache and body ache, like having flu, and then ulcers in your mouth and all over your body.
  • Carbamazepine can also cause other serious side-effects: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing, swelling of your face or throat, itching skin lumps), and other serious symptoms that you can find here. Go to a hospital if you get any of these symptoms, with your medicine.
  • Do not take carbamazepine if you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressant (MAOI) like moclobemide, phenelzine, isocarboxazid or tranylcypromine in the last 14 days.
  • Carbamazepine can make the contraceptive pill or implant less effective – use a barrier method to stop you getting pregnant.
  • Stopping carbamazepine suddenly can cause serious side-effects – go to your doctor if you want to stop, or if you are having these effects.
  • You might feel sleepy or dizzy in the first few days after taking carbamazepine – do not drive a car, ride a bike or operate machines until you see how this affects you.
  • If you take carbamazepine while you are pregnant, it may affect the developing baby. Use good contraception while you are taking carbamazepine. It can also cause symptoms in newborn babies if you take it at the end of pregnancy. Talk to your doctor or midwife about this and get their help.

Basic details

Carbamazepine is a mood stabiliser

  • Carbamazepine is a medicine called a ‘mood stabiliser’ as it controls feelings of excitability and over-activity. It can also help with the low mood periods.
  • If you are an adolescent, the doctor may prescribe carbamazepine for you as a licensed medicine to prevent mood swings from bipolar disorder.
  • It has also been used to treat low mood (depression), some anxiety and panic disorders, aggressive behaviour in people with schizophrenia, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
  • Carbamazepine is usually only prescribed after you have already tried other mood stabilisers such as lithium, olanzapine and valproate.
  • You will also see that carbamazepine can be used to treat epilepsy and trigeminal neuralgia.

You can take carbamazepine as tablets or liquid

  • Carbamazepine is available as tablets (100mg, 200mg and 400mg strengths)
  • There are 2 different types of tablets for carbamazepine.
  • One type is slow release and they must be not be chewed or they will not give you the long-lasting effect. It will say prolonged release, SR, or slow release or modified release on the box or label. You should swallow each tablet whole, or break it in half along the line in the middle
  • The other type of tablet is the ordinary tablet and you should swallow them whole, or you can cut the tablet in half if it has a line in the middle of it

You can also get carbamazepine as a liquid medicine (100mg in each 5ml spoonful).

Reference sources

Search www.medicines.org.uk to find patient information leaflets and prescribing information on carbamazepine. Tablets and liquid are listed separately. The SmPC lists all the inactive ingredients in the product so you can check against any allergies. If you are still unsure about this then speak to your pharmacist.

  • British National Formulary (BNF) and British National Formulary for children. Download the BNF/BNFC app (blue background) on to your mobile device. No longer available for public access via the web 
  • Taylor D, Barnes T, Young A. Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines in Psychiatry, 13th edition. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, May 2018. ISBN: 978-1-119-44260-8
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society. Medicines Ethics and Practice (42nd edition). London: RPS, 2018. Standards for pharmacists to work to. It is not a free publication
  • World Anti Doping Agency WADA Prohibited List https://www.wada-ama.org/en/resources/science-medicine/prohibited-list-documents 
  • Choiceandmedication; an independent source of information on many mental health conditions and their medicines with easy to read fact sheets www.choiceandmedication.org Personal subscriptions to download the app available for £1 per month (with proportionate discounts for longer periods) but your local mental health Trust may subscribe and provide information sheets for free.
  • Best Use of Medicines in Pregnancy (BUMPS). Information sheets on drugs in pregnancy http://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/ 
  • Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Information on drugs in breastfeeding https://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/newtoxnet/lactmed.htm