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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

Lamictal – The Pros and Cons of Using It to Treat Schizophrenia

Lamictal – The Pros and Cons of Using It to Treat Schizophrenia

Approximately one out of every one hundred (1 percent) of Americans suffer from schizophrenia, a condition that can be profoundly debilitating or even deadly if left untreated. Symptoms of schizophrenia may be severe and include psychotic episodes, hallucinations, disorientation, and in some cases, persistent delusions. Fortunately, schizophrenic patients now have more medication options than ever for treating their symptoms and finding relief. One popular treatment is lamotrigine, better known as Lamictal.

This anticonvulsant medication is in a unique class all its own. To determine whether Lamictal might be an appropriate treatment option for any particular person, it is first crucial to understand what this medication is, how it is used, and the advantages and disadvantages of using this medication for schizophrenia. In this post, we share important information more about this treatment option, its risks and benefits, and the types of patients Lamictal can sometimes help.

What Is Lamictal?

Lamictal

Lamictal is the most well-known trade name for the drug lamotrigine. This drug is a type of anti-convulsant used for seizure prevention in epileptic patients as well as mood stabilization in those suffering from psychiatric conditions. It has a broad range of applications in psychiatric medicine. Most prominently, it is used for the treatment of manic and depressive episodes that characterize a broad range of psychiatric disorders.

While Lamictal is known for its use in patients with bipolar disorder, it is also a promising treatment for schizophrenia and many additional psychiatric disorders. It has been FDA approved in the United States since 2009, has had an unproblematic market run, and today is available in generic form from multiple pharmaceutical manufacturers as well as under its original trade name.

 

Who Uses Lamictal and How Should It Be Taken?

Who Uses Lamictal and How Should It Be Taken

Lamictal is frequently prescribed in the course of treatment of mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, a range of schizotypal and dissociative disorders, and schizophrenia. This drug may be used on its own or in conjunction with other psychiatric medications. It is common and correct for patients and caregivers to be concerned about drug interactions, especially with certain psychiatric meds, but Lamictal use appears to present relatively low levels of concern in this regard.

Doses

Instructions

Getting Lamictal

Using Lamictal to Treat Schizophrenia: Pros & Cons

tablets

As with any medical treatment, Lamictal has advantages and disadvantages. Not treating schizophrenia can lead to unacceptable, very real danger to the patient, and there is no such thing as a treatment option that is entirely without risk. To make the most informed decision about using this drug for a given patient, it is best to understand the known benefits and drawbacks of this particular treatment option. Below are some of the most significant pros and cons to be aware of when considering using Lamictal for schizophrenia.

This medication has proven helpful for many patients with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders affecting mood stability. Some of the most significant advantages of this drug for schizophrenia treatment are listed below.

There is no such thing as a drug without some risks or drawbacks. Here are some of the most common potential disadvantages of Lamictal for schizophrenia treatment:

Pros 

  • The drug tends to be well tolerated
  • It has few side effects for most people
  • Patients who have not responded to other types of mood stabilizers may respond to Lamictal because it is in a unique class
  • Lamictal is particularly effective for relieving the states of extreme mania or depression that may sometimes accompany schizophrenia
  • Lamictal is a highly versatile drug and can be used alone or in combination with various other drugs to treat schizophrenia without unacceptable risks
  • Combining the drug with others often increases effectiveness of the first drug or minimizes side effects
  • This drug may provide relief for schizophrenic patients with co-occurring psychiatric disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Lamictal has also been used to effectively treat depressive disorders, schizoaffective disorders, and depersonalization disorder
  • Generic versions of Lamictal are available, which are more affordable than patented, brand named versions and so accessible to more patients

Cons 

  • Side effects and drug interactions from Lamictal can occur, just as they can with any medication
  • Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, and headache
  • Patients starting on this drug should inform their prescriber if they develop a rash, as this can be an indicator of a more serious side effect
  • Some patients may develop suicidal ideation on this medication
  • There are some drug interactions, though these can be avoided by ensuring the prescriber is aware of all medications in the mix
  • Lamictal treatment may take several weeks to take full effect
  • This is a powerful drug and it must be started at low doses, then titrated up to the most effective dose for each patient
  • Prescribing physicians need to figure out the right dosage for each patient
  • Lamictal must be taken as scheduled and prescribed to work properly
  • Lamictal will not work for every patient

Despite the fact that there are cons to this medication, it's important to take it regularly. Many schizophrenics experience medication compliance issues as part of their disorder. Some struggle to take medications as prescribed out of fear, and others may stop taking medications whenever they feel better for a while. It is never advisable to stop taking Lamictal or any other psychiatric medication abruptly without consulting your physician. If the patient in question has a history of refusing or otherwise not complying with medication regimens, supervision of medication administration by a caregiver should help.

Some people give up taking their medication because other medications haven't worked, or because the one they are taking now has not yet begun to work. Although many patients experience symptom relief, nearly one-third of schizophrenia cases are resistant to any type of treatment developed thus far.

This drug may be less effective for patients with schizophrenia that has proven resistant to other forms of treatment in the past. However, many psychiatric disorders require plenty of trial-and-error experimentation to find the ideal balance of medications. Rest assured that other medication options exist if Lamictal is not the ideal choice for a given patient.

Conclusion

Lamictal is a powerful tool that can help people with schizophrenia live fuller, less symptom-ridden, more productive lives when prescribed and used properly. If you or a loved one are suffering from this disorder and seeking relief from symptoms of schizophrenia, this medication may prove tremendously valuable. A psychiatrist can help determine whether this medication is an appropriate treatment choice.

While stigma may persist in regard to schizophrenia, patients who get help can often find relief from the troublesome symptoms of this mental illness. The availability of mood stabilizers like Lamictal has improved the lives and outcomes of many schizophrenic patients. We applaud the prevalence and availability of these newer-generation medication options. If you or someone you know is living with uncontrolled symptoms of schizophrenia, we hope you will speak with your doctor or psychiatrist to learn if Lamictal can help.

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