Epilepsy Home > Lamictal for Bipolar Disorder

Although it is a seizure medication, Lamictal is also approved for treating bipolar disorder. The use of Lamictal for bipolar disorder is intended to prevent episodes of mania or depression. While it is not yet approved to treat bipolar depression, the drug appears to be an effective treatment for this condition as well.

Lamictal and Bipolar Disorder: An Overview

Lamictal® (lamotrigine) is a prescription seizure medication. As with many other seizure medications, it is also effective for bipolar disorder treatment. In fact, the drug is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat bipolar disorder.


Lamictal for Bipolar Depression

Lamictal is approved as a "maintenance treatment" of bipolar disorder. This means that the drug is approved to be used long-term to help prevent episodes of mania or depression, but it is not approved to be started when a person is actively manic or depressed. Research suggests that Lamictal is particularly useful for treating bipolar depression. This condition can be challenging to treat, since antidepressants are often not recommended. Using an antidepressant in people with bipolar depression can cause "manic switches," quickly switching people from depression to mania.
One of the most commonly used sets of treatment recommendations for bipolar disorder is the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP). The TMAP currently recommends Lamictal as the first choice (used alone or in combination with other bipolar disorder medications) for treating bipolar depression.

Lamictal for Bipolar Disorder: Final Thoughts

Lamictal is approved to treat bipolar disorder, but only as a maintenance treatment (preventive treatment when a person is neither manic nor depressed), although it seems to be particularly useful for treating bipolar depression. While the drug is not yet approved to treat bipolar depression, it is considered by many to be the treatment of choice.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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