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What is Lamotrigine?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2016
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Lamotrigine is a medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as anticonvulsants. It is primarily used to prevent seizures, but may also be used to treat mood swings. The medication is thought to be effective at treating these conditions by altering the levels and activity of chemicals in the brain that control nerve impulses.

One of the main uses of lamotrigine is to treat epilepsy, a neurological condition in which a person may lose consciousness or suffer convulsions. Epilepsy is thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity that triggers these sudden and uncontrollable actions. Another use of the medication is for mood disorders, particularly bipolar disorder, a mental condition in which a person experiences significant mood swings. Mood disorders such as bipolar disorder are also thought to be caused by abnormal brain activity that affects the levels of brain chemicals responsible for regulating mood.

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Anticonvulsant drugs like lamotrigine are thought to work by reducing the speed of the release of chemicals in the brain known as neurons. The brain sends neurons throughout the body in order to signal actions to be performed. Seizures are thought to be the result of an excessive amount of neurons being released from the brain, which then can cause uncontrollable movements. Although the drug was once primarily used for seizure disorders only, it may also be effective at controlling the drastic changes in brain chemicals that may contribute to bipolar disorder. The medication does not cure the underlying cause of these brain abnormalities, but only treats the symptoms.

Lamotrigine typically is taken orally. It is generally available in tablet or capsule form, but not as a liquid. The medication instructions tend to call for taking the medication once a day every day. Even if a person feels better, it is usually not recommended to cease taking the medication without a doctor’s supervision because it can cause complications with brain activity and cause the symptoms to return or even worsen.

The medication has been found to have certain side effects. Common side effects of lamotrigine are changes in vision, vomiting, trouble sleeping, dry mouth, and stomach pain; however, these effects tend to go away after regularly taking the medication. If a person overdoses on the drug, it can also cause side effects that include seizures, depression and suicidal thoughts, swelling in the extremities, and chest pain. An overdose of the medication can be potentially fatal so immediate medical attention is recommended if a person experiences any of these symptoms.

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