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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Lamotrigine

Return to Lamotrigine overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else

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 lamotrigine than it said on the label, you must see a doctor quickly – even if you do not feel any different.
  • While taking lamotrigine, some people may think about hurting themselves or committing suicide. You must go straight to hospital with your medicine if you have any of these thoughts.
  • Lamotrigine also cause other serious side-effects: allergic reactions (difficulty breathing, swelling of your face or throat, itching skin lumps), skin rashes and other serious symptoms that you can find here. Go to a hospital if you get any of these symptoms, with your medicine.
  • Lamotrigine does not mix well with some other medicines and drugs. The contraceptive Pill can affect your blood levels of lamotrigine. Talk to your doctor about this if you are on the Pill.
  • You might feel dizzy or have double vision in the first few days after taking lamotrigine – do not drive a car, ride a bike or operate machines until you see how this affects you.
  • If you take lamotrigine while you are pregnant, it is unlikely to affect the developing baby. Use good contraception while you are taking lamotrigine. It can cause symptoms in babies if you breastfeed while taking lamotrigine. Talk to your doctor or midwife about this and get their help.

Basic Details

Lamotrigine is a mood stabiliser medicine

  • Lamotrigine is a medicine called a ‘mood stabiliser’ as it can reduce feelings of excitability and over-activity and reduce mood swings. It tends to work better on the low (depressive times) of a bipolar disorder.
  • Having these types of symptoms can interrupt your day to day life.
  • Medicines like lamotrigine can keep your mood stable.
  • It is also taken by some people who have epilepsy. This is a very separate use but will be covered in any patient leaflets.

You can take lamotrigine as tablets that you swallow whole, or that you chew or dissolve in water

  • Lamotrigine is available as tablets to swallow whole (25mg, 50mg, 100mg and 200mg strengths).
  • It is also available as tablets that you can mix in water or chew (2mg, 5mg, 25mg, and 100mg strengths).

The tablets you swallow whole contain lactose

  • The tablets you swallow whole have lactose in them, which may not suit people who have a problem drinking milk or eating certain sugars.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this if you think it could be a problem for you.

Lamotrigine can be used to treat low mood in bipolar disorder

  • Low Mood happens with Bipolar disorder, where your mood changes from high (very excited - Mania) to low (depressed).
  • Lamotrigine can be used for treating this low mood in bipolar disorder; it may be used with a medicine like valproate or lithium in mania to reduce the mood swings.

Lamotrigine can help to adjust the levels of the chemicals in your brain

The brain is usually good at making sure we have enough of the chemicals we need to function properly.

  • In the low mood of bipolar disorder the chemicals in the brain are not in balance.
  • We do not know, however, how lamotrigine helps to relieve low mood in bipolar disorder.
  • In epilepsy it increases the effects of the calming transmitter GABA and this leads to reduced seizures.

You should take lamotrigine as agreed with your doctor

  • Make sure that you know your dose. If it is not written on the label, check it with your pharmacist or doctor.
  • You may have to take it once or twice a day.
  • You may start off at a low dose and gradually increase it every few days or weeks until you and your doctor find the dose that is right for you. It may take up to 6 weeks to do this. It is important not to hurry the dosing timetable. Doing so can increase your chances of getting a serious skin reaction.
  • You might start by taking a tablet on alternate days – for example, taking a tablet on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and so on, missing out a day in between. You might find it helpful to mark off when you have taken it on a calendar, chart or diary. Get your mobile phone to set an alert for you if that would help.
  • It doesn’t matter what time you take it each day – choose a time that you can always remember. This could be at mealtimes, or when you brush your teeth.You can take it before or after food.
  • If you are taking the tablets that you swallow whole, wash them down with a glass of water. Do not try and chew them – they will taste unpleasant.
  • If you are taking the dispersible tablets, get a glass of cold water and mix the tablet/s in at least enough water to cover them. You can stir the drink to help them break up. Dispersible doesn’t mean you will get a totally clear solution- it will look a little cloudy
  • Drink it all, and then add more water to the glass to drink it in order to rinse out all the medicine into your mouth.
  • You can also chew the dispersible tablets, but it may help to rinse them down with some cold water.
  • You can still swallow the dispersible tablets whole with water if you prefer.

If you forget to take a dose then just take it as soon as possible, but do not take a double dose

What to do if you miss a dose:

  • If you remember later during the day, take it as soon as possible.If you forget to take it by the time of the next dose, just start again with the next dose.
  • Do not take a double dose.

What might happen?

  • If you forget to take your tablets for a few days, you may start getting your old symptoms of low mood back.
  • Although you may not be taking your lamotrigine for seizures (fits) if you stop it quickly and leave a large gap there is a chance you might have a fit. This is because after taking it for some time your body will have got used to having an anticonvulsant medicine on board. This doesn’t mean you are suddenly epileptic but a rebound or withdrawal seizure could happen.
  • You need to speak to your doctor so that you can safely start lamotrigine again and build back up to your dose. It is better to be honest - they will help you to get back on track.

You must go to A&E if you take too much

What to do if you take too much:

  • If you have taken more lamotrigine than it said on the label, you must get help quickly – even if you do not feel any different.
  • Go to A&E. Take your medicine with you, to show to the doctors. Tell them how much you have taken.
  • Get a friend to go with you, if you can, just in case you feel ill on the way.

You might get any of the following signs:

  • quick, uncontrollable body movements
  • clumsiness and lack of co-ordination, causing problems with your balance.
  • heart rhythm changes
  • loss of consciousness, fits (convulsions) or coma.

It can take up to 6 weeks for lamotrigine to start helping your symptoms

  • Your dose of lamotrigine should be steady after 6 weeks of taking it.
  • You should see helpful effects by the end of this time.

Many people take lamotrigine for at least 6 months

You and your doctor should talk about how long you need to take lamotrigine.

    • You will not get the full effect for some weeks.
    • If you take lamotrigine for bipolar disorder you will probably take it for at least 6 months - otherwise your old symptoms can come back. You may find it is taken for much longer

References

Search www.medicines.org.uk to find patient information leaflets and prescribing information on lamotrigine. 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: 978-1-119-44260-8Royal 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