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

If you have any thoughts of suicide, or of other ways of hurting yourself, go straight to a hospital with your medicine. This may be a side-effect, and you need urgent help.

Whilst taking kamotrigine some people may think about hurting themselves or have suicidal thoughts. This can happen to anyone, including people who are under 25.

These thoughts may happen or get worse in the first few weeks of taking the medicine. Always tell a friend or a family member if you feel this way.

If you have ever had thoughts about hurting yourself or committing suicide before starting the medicine, you may be more likely to feel this again when you start the medicine. Tell your doctor so that everyone can watch for this happening.

You must go straight to hospital with your medicine if you have any of these thoughts. You must tell the doctor that you are taking lamotrigine. There are other things you can take instead.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist before you take lamotrigine if you have any of these conditions

You need to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have, or have ever had:

  • Kidney problems
  • Rashes after taking lamotrigine or any other medicines for bipolar disorder or depression
  • A blood condition called HLH. It produces symptoms like fever, headache, feeling or being sick, stiff neck or your eyes being sensitive to bright light, it is also a very rare side effect of taking lamotrigine

You may not be able to take lamotrigine. There are other things you can take instead.

Lamotrigine has a number of side effects - if they happen, they can be serious

Go to a doctor or hospital straight away if you get any of the following symptoms:

  • Skin rashes or redness with blisters and peeling skin around the mouth, nose, eyes and groin / sex organs
  • Peeling of large areas of skin (up to 30% - almost a third – of your body surface)
  • Large red skin rashes
  • Ulcers in the mouth, throat, nose or around your groin / sex organs
  • A sore mouth
  • Red or swollen eyes
  • A high temperature (fever), flu-like symptoms or drowsiness
  • Swelling around your face
  • Swollen glands in your neck, armpit or groin
  • Unexpected bleeding or bruising
  • Your fingers turning blue
  • A sore throat
  • More infections (such as colds) than usual

These reactions tend to happen during the first 8 weeks of taking lamotrigine.

Serious skin rashes may leave some scarring. If you experience one of the skin reactions, the doctor may tell you to remember never to take lamotrigine again. Make a note of this, and tell your GP and pharmacist to add it to your treatment record.

Some side-effects that do appear should get better after a few days. If they do not, you should go back to your doctor

Some side-effects of lamotrigine may – strangely - seem like other mental health symptoms. Some side-effects here are also the opposites of each other. The balance of chemicals in the brain is very fragile, and hard to control! If they do not get better after a few days on the tablets, go back to the doctor.

Do not stop taking the tablets until you talk to your doctor, or you may get your old symptoms back.

Very common side effects (could affect more than 1 in 10 people)

  • Headache
  • Skin rash

Common side effects (could affect up to 1 in 10 people)

  • Feeling aggressive, agitated or irritable
  • Feeling sleepy, tired or drowsy
  • Having difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Diarrhoea (loose poo)
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
  • Having pain in your back or joints, or elsewhere

There are other side-effects that you can get when taking this medicine – we have only included the most common ones here.

  • Please look at the leaflet inside your medicine box, or ask a doctor or pharmacist, if you want to know if you are getting a side-effect from your medicine.
  • If you do get a side-effect, please think about reporting it via the Yellow Card Scheme.

Lamotrigine does not mix well with some other medicines and drugs, including the Pill

Talk to your doctor before taking lamotrigine if you are taking any other medicines.

Special Information about contraceptive Pills containing oestrogens

  • When lamotrigine is taken with the Pill (oral contraceptives) containing oestrogen it lowers the level of lamotrigine that you have in your body.
  • If you have a pill-free week, the levels of lamotrigine will then rise and may give you side-effects.
  • If you take the Pill without a break, it will make your lamotrigine levels stable for you. You will not get harmed by not having the break.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your Pill (contraceptive) before you start taking lamotrigine.
  • The morning after pill would not affect lamotrigine as it does not contain oestrogen.

If you have any further questions about this you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

Tell the pharmacist you are taking lamotrigine if you buy medicines (including things you put on your skin) for common illnesses.

Be careful if you are also using street drugs

  • We do not know how street drugs affect lamotrigine, but all of these drugs affect the way the brain works so they may not mix well.

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: 978-1-119-44260-8
  • 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