Highlighting side effects, warnings, interactions, and more


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US brand name: Lamictal
Generic name: lamotrigine

Lamictal’s Potential Side Effects

Potential Side Effects All Crazy Meds Have

No matter which neurological and/or psychiatric drug you take, you’ll probably get one or more of these side effects. These will usually be gone, or at least will diminish to the point where you barely notice it most of the time, within a week or two.

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness / fatigue - even when taking stimulants in some circumstances.
  • Insomnia, instead of or alternating with the drowsiness.
  • Nausea
  • Assorted other minor GI complaints (constipation, diarrhea, etc.)
  • Generally feeling spacey / out of it
    • Which can all add up to the ever-helpful “flu-like symptoms” listed as an adverse event on the PI sheet of practically every medication on the planet used to treat almost any condition humans and other animals could have.1
  • All crazy meds can, and probably will affect your dreams as well. There is no way of telling if that will be good or bad, let alone if this side effect is permanent or temporary.
  • Any of the above side effects you see listed again below means they’re even more likely to happen and/or stick around longer and/or are worse than most other meds.

Typical Potential Side Effects

Rash, insomnia, itchy skin, lethargy, photosensitivity, memory and cognitive problems, rashes, and headaches that are sometimes really bad. Did I mention rashes and assorted other skin problems? The rash thing is overblown, as serious rashes aren’t all that common. Other skin problems, and mildly annoying, short-term rashes happen all the time. The headache is usually temporary, and if you do get it, the odds are it will be when you change the dosage. The lethargy and stupids usually diminish and may even go away, especially if you take folic acid. Folic acid may even help with some of the skin problems. The insomnia is one of those side effects you’ll know is temporary as soon as is stops and doesn’t come back for a few months.

Uncommon Potential Side Effects

A specific type of insomnia where you’re really sleepy but just can’t fall asleep. Muscle aches, everything from just a twinge in your neck or back to full-body aches that make you wonder if you were possessed by some spirit that made you participate in a triathalon the day before and have no memory of it. Similar to what you get with Topamax. Dry mouth. OCD-like symptoms. Don’t be surprised if you get anxious or have other hypomanic effects if taking it for bipolar disorder.

As with the regular type of insomnia mentioned above, the muscle aches are one of those side effects you’ll know is temporary when it stops and doesn’t return. The dead-tired-but-still-can’t-sleep insomnia is like the headache - it might go away and only return when you change dosage, or it might go away for good (more or less) after some indeterminate amount of time, or it might just come and go on its own schedule2 for as long as you’re taking it.

Freaky Rare Side Effects

Going deaf. Permanently.
Hiccups that won’t stop.

Not all side effects have been listed here, just the most likely and most interesting. For all reported side effects, see Lamictal’s PI Sheet.

What You Really Need to be Careful About

Stevens-Johnson Syndrome. AKA The Rash.

Pregnancy Category

Lamictal’s Noted Drug-Drug, Drug-Food & Drug-Supplement Interactions

  • Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)/ red tea may be a potent inducer of UGTs. As such you should probably avoid Rooibos/red tea/whatever it’s called where you live if you’re taking Lamictal.
  • Like many crazy meds, especially AEDs, you may need to take more Lamictal and/or take it more often if you smoke.
  • I cannot stress often enough the interaction between Lamictal and anything containing ethinyl estradiol, which is practically every form of pharmacological birth control except the Depo-Provera (medroxyprogesterone) injection.
  • Lamictal’s bioavailability may be affected by food. That’s the only study I’ve found showing any affect food has had on Lamictal, but this med is so screwy it wouldn’t surprise me if it can make enough of a difference for some people.
  • Like most AEDs, Lamictal messes with how your body deals with folate. So you’ll probably need to take a folic acid supplement.
  • Your doctor and pharmacist should have at least mentioned Lamictal’s interactions with Tegretol/Equetro (carbamazepine) and the valproates: Depakote, valproic acid, Stavzor, and commie Depakote sodium valproate / valproate sodium. There are even more interactions involved. So, if you have multiple brain cooties or your doctor hasn’t quite pinned down what the hell is wrong with you:
    • Lamictal + carbamazapine could be a bad idea.
    • Lamictal + Trileptal (oxcarbazepine) could be an even worse idea.
    • While Lamictal + Depakote can be a really good idea if either med by itself isn’t working well enough to control your seizures.
    • And Lamictal + Topamax can be a good idea, but only if you take around the same amount of each and you aren’t taking high dosages of either.
  • What’s the deal with the above? It’s in how the meds work, specifically with sodium channels. Too much and you don’t just get stupid, you may as well not be taking an AED. But if the drugs compliment each other, then your brain will be a lot happier.
  • Lamictal is notorious for causing multiday hangovers if you drink the least amount of alcohol.
    • Drinking while taking AEDs isn’t that great an idea, but unless you enjoy waking up with an epic hangover, don’t even drink half a lite beer if you’re taking Lamictal.
Check for Other Drug-Drug, Drug-Food & Drug-Supplement Interactions Lamictal may have at

Drugs.com’s drug-drug and drug-food interaction checker

It’s always a good idea to check for drug-drug interactions yourself. Just because most people in the crazy meds business know about really important interactions (e.g. MAOIs and a lot of stuff, warfarin and everything on the planet) doesn’t mean the person who prescribed your meds told you about them, or the pharmacist has all the meds you take at their fingertips like they’re supposed to. Or they have the time to do their jobs properly when not dealing with complete idiots or playing Angry Farmers on teh Faecesbooks.
Learn more about drug-everything interactions on our page of tips about taking crazy meds.

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« Lamictal’s Uses and Using | Lamictal’s Pros and Cons »

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1 As well as being an indication of half of said conditions.

2 There are probably all sorts of factors involved, such as life stressors or a random-seeming interaction with caffeine like Topamax has. Then again, it's Lamictal, and if there is any drug on the planet that is more random I'm glad I'm not taking it.

Last modified on Wed, 04 May, 2016 at 17:22:00 by JerodPoorePage Author Date created January 18, 2011, at 15:16:23
“Lamictal (lamotrigine) Pharmacology” by Jerod Poore is copyright © 2011 Jerod Poore Published online 2011/01/18

Lamictal, and all other drug names on this page and used throughout the site, are the trademarks of someone else. Lamictal’s PI Sheet will probably have the name of the manufacturer and trademark owner (they’re not always the same company) at or near the very bottom. Or ask Google who the owner is. The way pharmaceutical companies buy each other and swap products like Monopoly™ real estate, the ownership of the trademark may have changed without my noticing. It may of changed hands by the time you finished reading this article.

Page design and explanatory material by Jerod Poore, copyright © 2003 - 2016. All rights reserved. See the full copyright notice for full copyright details.
Don’t automatically believe everything you read on teh Intergoogles. No warranty is expressed or implied in this information. Consult one or more doctors and/or pharmacists before taking, or changing how you take any neurological and/or psychiatric medication. Your mileage may vary. What happened to us won’t necessarily happen to you. For more details see the Crazymeds big-ass disclaimer.

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