Lamictal for Depression
Taking Lamictal for depression is not currently an approved use. Nonetheless, early studies suggest that the drug may be an effective treatment for depression that is difficult to treat, especially when used in combination with an antidepressant. However, more research needs to be done before determining for certain that Lamictal is safe and effective for depression.
Is Lamictal Approved for Depression?Lamictal® (lamotrigine) is a prescription medication used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder. It is particularly useful for treating episodes of depression associated with bipolar disorder (see Lamictal for Bipolar Disorder). Although not approved to treat depression, it is thought that the drug may be effective for this use, especially for depression that is difficult to treat.
Using Lamictal for Unipolar DepressionUnipolar depression (as opposed to bipolar depression) is also known as major depression or clinical depression. Unipolar depression is what most people think of when they hear the term "depression." Since Lamictal is an effective treatment for bipolar depression, it seems reasonable to assume that it may be useful for treating unipolar depression.
Early studies suggest that the drug may be effective when used for "augmentation." Augmentation for depression is adding a non-antidepressant medication to an antidepressant in order to help the antidepressant work better. This technique is used for depression that is difficult to treat (called treatment-resistant depression). Medications commonly used to augment antidepressants include:
- Buspirone (BuSpar®)
- Lithium (Eskalith®, Lithobid®)
- Pindolol (Visken®)
- Thyroid hormones (Cytomel®, Levoxyl®, or Synthroid®).
One small study suggested that Lamictal may be as effective as lithium for augmentation for treatment-resistant depression. A few other studies have also suggested that the drug is a safe and effective choice for antidepressant augmentation.