How Long Does Withdrawal From Lamictal Last?

Lamictal withdrawal symptoms

Verywell / Emily Roberts 

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Lamictal (lamotrigine) is a mood stabilizer and anticonvulsant prescribed to treat bipolar disorder and epilepsy. This medication can be used to reduce the occurrence of mood episodes in people with bipolar disorder and to control seizures in people with epilepsy. If people suddenly stop taking their medication, they may experience Lamictal withdrawal symptoms.

This article discusses the symptoms of Lamictal withdrawal and how to cope. It also explores warning you should consider before stopping your medication and other long-term treatment options.

Overview of Lamictal Withdrawal

All medications can potentially cause both uncommon side effects and uncommon withdrawal symptoms. However, the clinical trials that looked at Lamictal for bipolar disorder didn't note any significant withdrawal symptoms.

While there is little clinical information available about potential Lamictal withdrawal, anecdotal reports suggest that some individuals may experience difficult symptoms when discontinuing their medication.

Such reports suggest that people may feel particularly tired, moody, and unfocused when they quit taking Lamictal. Some individuals suggest that they experience physical sensations such as body tingles.

Such experiences may range in severity from mild to severe. However, evidence indicates that such symptoms typically resolve within a few days.

Signs & Symptoms of Lamictal Withdrawal

Clinical trials show that sudden Lamictal discontinuation may increase the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy. The patient information for Lamictal doesn't mention any potential withdrawal symptoms beyond seizures.

However, Lamictal users report other symptoms, even if they taper off from the drug instead of suddenly stopping it. These include:

  • Moodiness
  • Hostility
  • Loss of focus
  • Lethargy
  • Headaches
  • Body tingling and other such sensory effects
  • Suicidal tendencies

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

None of these effects were reported when the drug was first tested; they're not mentioned on the drug's label now. The label does, however, caution patients against stopping Lamictal without first talking to their healthcare provider.

As with any medication, withdrawal symptoms depend on your circumstances. Your withdrawal can be affected by how long you've been on Lamictal, your dosage, whether you stopped suddenly or tapered off, and other factors.

How long does Lamictal withdrawal last?

There is no specific timeline for Lamictal withdrawal since it tends to be uncommon, and effects can vary from person to person. Acute symptoms typically resolve on their own within a few days to a week.

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Click Play to Learn More About Lamictal Withdrawal

This video has been medically reviewed by John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE.

Coping & Relief for Lamictal Withdrawal

While it might be tempting to stop taking your medication immediately, you should always talk to your doctor first. Abruptly stopping Lamictal may also lead to a return of symptoms of the condition that is being treated. For people with bipolar disorder, this might mean experiencing a mood episode. For people with epilepsy, this might mean an increased risk of experiencing a seizure.

As with many medications, it is recommended that people who discontinue the drug do so gradually rather than stop it suddenly.

The prescribing information recommends that a taper period should last at least two weeks, with about a 50% reduction in dose per week. Your doctor may recommend a different tapering method, depending on your circumstances and your dosage. Report any odd or disturbing symptoms to your doctor as you taper off your dose.

Warnings

Be sure to talk to your doctor before stopping or re-starting Lamictal. Suddenly stopping Lamictal can cause new or worse problems regarding your mental health.

The situation may be even more complicated if you're taking other medications along with Lamictal. This is because Lamictal interacts with other drugs, such as anti-epileptics and oral contraceptives. Your doctor will help you sort out the significance of these interactions.

In a few cases, you may need to stop Lamictal suddenly. This is because the drug can cause a potentially life-threatening rash and other dangerous reactions.

If one of these rare side effects occurs, you'll need to discontinue taking the drug immediately. If this happens to you, be sure to let your doctor know if you experience any withdrawal symptoms.

Long-Term Treatment

Because Lamictal is not addictive, most people can stop using it successfully with few serious problems. If you need additional assistance, talk to your doctor.

Once you stop taking your medication, you may need to consider alternative treatments for your condition. Other medications are available that can help you manage the symptoms of your condition, including other anticonvulsants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics.

Other commonly prescribed medications include:

  • Lithium
  • Depakote (divaproex sodium)
  • Seroquel (quetiapine)
  • Abilify (aripiprazole)
  • Zyprexa (olanzapine)
  • Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Tegretol (carbamazepine)
  • Topamax (topiramate)
  • Geodon (clozapine)
  • Valproate

Discuss your options with your doctor to determine what medication or treatment might suit your needs.

Resources

If you are interested in stopping Lamictal or lowering your dose, your best option is to start by talking to your doctor. Joining a bipolar disorder support group can also be a helpful source of encouragement, support, and advice. 

A Word From Verywell

While not observed in clinical trials, some people may experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping Lamictal. Your experience may vary and may be influenced by various factors, including how long you've taken the medication.

Talk to your doctor before changing your dose or stopping your medication. They can work with you to develop a tapering schedule that will minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms and recommend other ways of managing your condition.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Gelisse P, Kissani N, Crespel A, Jafari H, Baldy-Moulinier M. Is there a lamotrigine withdrawal syndromeActa Neurol Scand. 2002;105(3):232-234. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0404.2002.1c220.x

  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration Medication Guides. Lamictal.

Additional Reading
  • GlaxoSmithKline. Lamictal Prescribing Information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Updated July 2018.

  • MedlinePlus. Lamotrigine. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc. National Institutes of Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Updated September 5, 2018.

By Marcia Purse
Marcia Purse is a mental health writer and bipolar disorder advocate who brings strong research skills and personal experiences to her writing.