Lamictal is an anti-seizure medication that has also found some success in treating the symptoms of depression and bipolar disorder. It has not been approved by the FDA for treatment of depression as of yet but it has found an off label use as such because many psychiatrists have found that it has substantially benefited the treatment of manic depression in their patients.
Usually Lamictal is not used as a front line medication in the treatment of depression. Standard SSRIs are usually prescribed first because they have a longer track record of success and have less side effects. Patients whose depression is unresponsive to standard medications are sometimes been prescribed
Lamictal, which often has the effect of augmenting the standard depression medication. In fact, Lamictal is often prescribed in conjunction with another SSRI such as well Wellbutrin or Cymbalta. Lamictal acts as an antidepressant and also as a mood stabilizer. For this reason it is usually prescribed for bipolar patients who are unresponsive to the more typical medications.
The exact mechanism that Lamictal uses to improve depression symptoms is not well understood by the medical community. It is believed that some of the same neurological disruptions that cause epilepsy may also be related to the causes of depression and bipolar disorder. Although the exact sciences not understood, there is much anecdotal evidence to support the use of Lamotrigine for treatment of depression.
When Lamictal was first prescribed, it is critical that the patient be started off with a low dosage that is slowly stepped up over time. This is because of a potentially deadly side effect of the medication that causes a severe allergic rash in a small but statistically significant percentage of patients, around 5%.
The rash is much more likely to appear when Lamictal is started off in a high-dose rather than stepped up in stages. If the patient notices a red rash on their skin while taking the medication, especially when they first start taking it, it is critical that they stopped taking the medication immediately and seek the advice of their doctor.
I have firsthand experience with the use of Lamotrigine, as my psychiatrist prescribed it for me for treating my bipolar disorder after standard SSRIs alone were unsuccessful. I found that a combination of Lamictal and Wellbutrin works great for treating my symptoms.
As always, medications affect people differently and it is often a trial and error process to find the one that works for you. If you suffer from bipolar depression and you feel that you need more than what your standard SSRIs giving you, consider asking your psychiatrist about Lamictal