Lamictal Withdrawal Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder

Lamictal withdrawal symptoms

Verywell / Emily Roberts 

Official clinical information about Lamictal (lamotrigine) contains few details regarding potential symptoms that may occur if you stop taking the drug. However, reports from people who have taken it and then stopped indicate that some individuals may experience difficult symptoms when discontinuing Lamictal.

All medications have the potential to cause both uncommon side effects and uncommon withdrawal symptoms. The clinical trials that looked at Lamictal for bipolar disorder didn't note any significant withdrawal symptoms.

However, a quick internet search on the subject turns up a wide variety of anecdotal reports, calling withdrawal from Lamictal "a nightmare" and "hell." So even if these experiences aren't particularly common, they do seem to occur.

Lamictal Withdrawal Symptoms

Clinical trials show that sudden Lamictal discontinuation may increase the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy. The patient information that comes with Lamictal doesn't mention any potential withdrawal symptoms beyond seizures. However, Lamictal users report other symptoms, even if they taper off from the drug as opposed to stopping it suddenly. 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 1-800-273-8255 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 being tested, and they're not mentioned on the drug's label now. The label does, however, caution patients not to stop taking Lamictal without first talking to their healthcare provider.

As with any medication, withdrawal symptoms will depend on you and 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 individual factors.

How to Taper Off Lamictal

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.

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

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

If you're taking other medications along with Lamictal, the situation may be even more complicated. This is because Lamictal interacts with other drugs such as certain other 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.

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Article Sources
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  1. 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.

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