Lamotrigine - somnolence

N

notrealname

Well-known member
Joined
May 4, 2009
Messages
766
#1
Hi
I don't post here very often but I was wondering if anyone else is on Lamotrigine? I've been on it for coming up two years but I'm really sick of it. The somnolence side effects - drowsiness, feeling zombiefied, motor coordination difficulties, confusion, hypersomnia, difficulty concentrating - are really doing my head in and making work so much more stressful than it should be! I really need my wits about me at work and it's almost impossible on this drug. As well, it really hits me if I forget to take a pill. If I miss one dose I feel like someone's put me on about 100 sleeping pills. I can barely move.

Anyone else having these problems? I have always doubted by cyclothymia diagnosis because I'm sure my only symptom is anxiety but I'm still a bit scared that they might be right - I mean, they're the doctors after all! If I was to go off lamotrigine and stay off all types of pills after that and it turned out I was cyclothymic, how would that affect me? My mental health has improved substantially over the years and I'm better now than I ever have been, though I'd put that down to life experiences and maturing and learning new perspectives more than I would the pills. I don't want to ruin all my hard work by quitting the pills, though, if it turns out they are helping to keep me stable!

Thanks for reading.
 
Last edited:
H

historymum

Guest
#2
Hi, what dose are you on? I'm on 125mg, and haven't noticed any of the side effects you mention (although I've never forgotten a dose, and I've been on it since February). Are you under the CMHT? If so, perhaps you could consult with them to see if you can try dropping the dose? It's a tough one. I wouldn't suggest doing without consultation - I think you have to be careful when messing around with lamotrigine doses, in either direction.

I've come to see medication as a plaster - I have a gaping wound (PND, possible bipolar 2) that is being covered over by the medication. I know it needs to heal completely before I can start taking the medication away. And, like ripping off a plaster, I know that it's going to sting. (Although that's where my anaolgy ends as I don't think it's good to pull away the medication quickly!) Sorry if that sounds daft! :unsure:

I have no plans to take the lamotrigine away in the near future, but I am slowly reducing the quetiapine (from 200mg to 125mg at the moment, with CPN's help.) Although I'm doing it very slowly, each reduction brings a whacking great drop in mood. It's very hard to try to push through it, and there's always the question as to whether it's temporary, or a sign that I can't cope without the drugs. I suspect the same's probably true of the lamtrogine. I guess it's a balancing act between the actual symptoms of the illness and side effects. Just one thought - are you sure that the problems you list (tiredness, lack of focus etc) are side effects or symptoms of depression? Just a thought.

Anyway, sorry for my rambling. I do believe that you should aim for mimimum side effects with medication.
 
N

notrealname

Well-known member
Joined
May 4, 2009
Messages
766
#3
Hi historymum, thanks for your reply.

I'm not sure what CMHT means? Or CPN actually! I'm on 150mg, used to be on 200mg but I kept falling asleep at random moments so they lowered it! I don't really feel depressed so I don't think it's depression. I haven't really been properly depressed for a few years now, it's just been anxiety. I'd like to be completely pill free if possible. The only worry is if it turns out I really am bipolar and going off the meds would make me worse. I'm thinking that if it's just anxiety, like I thought, I can handle it. I used to be able to, anyway. Things really went wrong when I went on Citalopram (anti-depressant). and I've been on all sorts of pills since then. I guess I'd like to know what it feels like to be without them! I just feel so zoned out all the time since I've been on lamotrigine yet less anxious and depressed - emotionally and physically I feel loads better, but I feel constantly drunk! Apparently lamotrigine can affect the central nervous system which is where that drunk feeling comes from in some people.

It sounds like you've been through a rough patch, I'm really sorry to hear about that. It's not nice feeling depressed! I'm glad I don't have to go through that anymore. I hope the pills are making you feel better?
 
H

historymum

Guest
#4
Hi historymum, thanks for your reply.

I'm not sure what CMHT means? Or CPN actually! I'm on 150mg, used to be on 200mg but I kept falling asleep at random moments so they lowered it! I don't really feel depressed so I don't think it's depression. I haven't really been properly depressed for a few years now, it's just been anxiety. I'd like to be completely pill free if possible. The only worry is if it turns out I really am bipolar and going off the meds would make me worse. I'm thinking that if it's just anxiety, like I thought, I can handle it. I used to be able to, anyway. Things really went wrong when I went on Citalopram (anti-depressant). and I've been on all sorts of pills since then. I guess I'd like to know what it feels like to be without them! I just feel so zoned out all the time since I've been on lamotrigine yet less anxious and depressed - emotionally and physically I feel loads better, but I feel constantly drunk! Apparently lamotrigine can affect the central nervous system which is where that drunk feeling comes from in some people.

It sounds like you've been through a rough patch, I'm really sorry to hear about that. It's not nice feeling depressed! I'm glad I don't have to go through that anymore. I hope the pills are making you feel better?
Sorry, CMHT= Community Mental Health Team; CPN = Community Psychiatric Nurse. Of course, I'm assuming that you're in the UK.

Hmm, going on an anti-depressant (sertraline) was also what caused a lot of my problems. It seemed to be the best thing at the time as I had crippling PND, but it made me more suicidal. I eventually moved on to citalopram, which sent me a little bit high. That was when the quetiapine and lamotrigine were started, along with the bipolar 2 question mark. Like you, I've played the 'what if I am bipolar' game. I'm trying very hard to not think along those lines as I certainly find it quite depressing in itself. I've learned a massive amount about how to deal with low mood (high mood was never ever a problem until the citalopram), and how to manage my life in ways that help me. I really do think I can be pill-free in time, and perhaps mentally healthier than ever before with my new skills. (That's me being very positive at the moment....) I'm trying to ignore labels and just manage how I feel most effectively. I've just started psychotherapy, and my CPN is very supportive of that approach so it helps. I know one of my faults is looking way too far in to the future and play the 'what if' game...what if I'm bipolar...what if everything goes wrong when I stop the pills....I'm just trying to take it week by week, each dosage change at a time.

Edited to add: but, for me, I have found lamotrigine to be a wonder drug. No side effects (that I can notice), and a massive improvement in mood. It's a shame it's not worked quite so well for you.
 
J

jason

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 31, 2011
Messages
96
Location
************
#5
i actully took one dose the other day i was so sick i was thinking of calling an abulance and that was one dose
 
calypso

calypso

Well-known member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Jan 5, 2011
Messages
39,711
Location
Lancashire
#6
Hiya

the symptoms you describe I would aargue are not from lamotrigine. I have never had any of those symptoms and it has been a blast of fresh air as far as mood stabilising. Are you on other meds, and are you sure it is not the underlying condition working on you? I would be surprised if it was lamotrigine. xx
 
N

notrealname

Well-known member
Joined
May 4, 2009
Messages
766
#7
Hi
Thanks everyone for getting back to me. I was about to post some links to show the side effects of Lamotrigine because I'm absolutely sure I saw lack of motor coordination, confusion, speech problems, somnolence etc on there, but maybe I'm thinking of something else because I can't find it now!

I've been checked to make sure the symptoms aren't a neurological condition. The symptoms used to be worse and accompanied by a lot of myoclonic jerks (whole body spasms in my case, throughout the day) and sometimes falling down or having trouble understanding external stimuli (like someone talking to me - I could hear all the words but I couldn't make sense of them anymore). They thought it could be epilepsy so they sent me to a neurologist, who said I was fine and sent a very curt letter to my GP! Consultants can be odd sometimes, I understand why the GP might have been worried about those symptoms!

You might be right that they're not symptoms associated with lamotrigine. They're not all the time, they tend to get better and worse. I imagine they could be connected with anxiety, particularly as I suffer from extreme forgetfulness! Me and my boyfriend went to the kitchen to smoke the other day and I was in the middle of a conversation with him. After about three minutes I said "come on then" and tried to go back upstairs. He said "aren't we going to smoke?" I swore blind we'd already had a cigarette! Sometimes I also make myself a cup of tea and forget it instantly. About three minutes later I'll want a cup of tea and go to make one and be shocked to see one sitting there - I have no idea how it got there, I don't remember at all. This sort of thing can happen in anxiety. It can't be neurological because the doctor said I was fine. It's worrying, though! I guess if it doesn't sound like lamotrigine, I'm better off seeing if I can combat the anxiety, although I really don't feel that anxious anymore!

Thanks for all of your advice!
 
H

historymum

Guest
#8
Those symptoms sound very much like the problems I had at higher doses of quetiapine, although not the shakes. I did exactly the same thing with making cups of teas. I didn't have the problem of not being able to process what people were saying, but I did suffer from the opposite. I would know exactly what I wanted to say, but I couldn't manage to put the words together to express it. I had trouble linking from idea to idea - it was there in my head, but it just wouldn't transfer in to words. I'm a lecturer so this was a very big problem.:stomp:

I'm assuming you're not on quetiapine, but I wouldn't rule out the lamotrigine causing this. These drugs seem to be so blooming quirky. Didn't you say that these problems got a bit better when you reduced the dose? If so, it would make sense that the lamotrigine is causing them.

It mentions some of the problems you've got here (this website's very good): http:unsure:/crazymeds.us/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Meds/LamictalExpandedSideEffects It mentions cognitive side effects.
 
N

notrealname

Well-known member
Joined
May 4, 2009
Messages
766
#9
Those symptoms sound very much like the problems I had at higher doses of quetiapine, although not the shakes. I did exactly the same thing with making cups of teas. I didn't have the problem of not being able to process what people were saying, but I did suffer from the opposite. I would know exactly what I wanted to say, but I couldn't manage to put the words together to express it. I had trouble linking from idea to idea - it was there in my head, but it just wouldn't transfer in to words. I'm a lecturer so this was a very big problem.:stomp:

I'm assuming you're not on quetiapine, but I wouldn't rule out the lamotrigine causing this. These drugs seem to be so blooming quirky. Didn't you say that these problems got a bit better when you reduced the dose? If so, it would make sense that the lamotrigine is causing them.

It mentions some of the problems you've got here (this website's very good): http:unsure:/crazymeds.us/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Meds/LamictalExpandedSideEffects It mentions cognitive side effects.

Thanks for the link! Quite a relief. Nice to confirm where these strange symptoms come from!

And yeah, I reckon a lot of these drugs act on a similar part of the brain or something because I know a lot of medications I've been offered have the side effect "feeling drunk" written on the leaflet!

I know what you mean about not concentrating at work - I'm supposed to write 5,000 words a day. It doesn't help when you have to read every sentence five times to understand it!

Cheers for your help.
 
calypso

calypso

Well-known member
Admin
Moderator
Joined
Jan 5, 2011
Messages
39,711
Location
Lancashire
#10
Hey

I am sorry for all the symptoms you are getting. I think it is possible you could have a strange reaction to this drug. The reason I didn't think this is partly that it is used for epilepsy, so would act totally differently from the symptoms you describe, part;y because I have never heard this from others, and I have never had them myself. But by all means, see if it is and check it out. xxx
 
M

megirl

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 9, 2010
Messages
4,092
Location
NZ
#11
I think its best you speak to your psych doc bout this.
I found that lamotrigine was thank god the drug that helped me through the depression.
My psych doc told me that this was the amost the last resort. I feel lucky.
I believe we can all join the journey to wellness so dont give up,
Cheers megirl
 
The_Cigarette_Monster

The_Cigarette_Monster

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 9, 2011
Messages
304
Location
...
#12
I get that with lamotrigine, for the first few weeks I was on it it felt like I had been put on sleeping pills! I slept about 14 hours every night! And I got the whole confusion thing, which was a pain cos it was right through my exams :( but those symptoms should disappear after a few weeks of being on the right dosage ;) xx
 
P_Rose

P_Rose

Member
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Messages
10
Location
USA
#13
I've had this same question. I've been feeling all kinds of brain fog and sometimes that feeling of "being drunk," especially later in the day when I get naturally tired as well. I'm currently on 150mg of lamotrigine. I can't tell though if the symptoms are just from my original depression or if it's a lamotrigine side effect. Part of me wonders if I should go back to a lower dose, and part of me thinks I should go higher, or add an antipsychotic. Sometimes it's so hard to tell what's causing the issue. I still think the lamotrigine has been critical for alleviating the worst of my depression when I was having suicidal ideation.
 
Tabby 88

Tabby 88

ACCOUNT CLOSED
Joined
Oct 20, 2018
Messages
473
#14
Hi
I don't post here very often but I was wondering if anyone else is on Lamotrigine? I've been on it for coming up two years but I'm really sick of it. The somnolence side effects - drowsiness, feeling zombiefied, motor coordination difficulties, confusion, hypersomnia, difficulty concentrating - are really doing my head in and making work so much more stressful than it should be! I really need my wits about me at work and it's almost impossible on this drug. As well, it really hits me if I forget to take a pill. If I miss one dose I feel like someone's put me on about 100 sleeping pills. I can barely move.

Anyone else having these problems? I have always doubted by cyclothymia diagnosis because I'm sure my only symptom is anxiety but I'm still a bit scared that they might be right - I mean, they're the doctors after all! If I was to go off lamotrigine and stay off all types of pills after that and it turned out I was cyclothymic, how would that affect me? My mental health has improved substantially over the years and I'm better now than I ever have been, though I'd put that down to life experiences and maturing and learning new perspectives more than I would the pills. I don't want to ruin all my hard work by quitting the pills, though, if it turns out they are helping to keep me stable!

Thanks for reading.
You can definitely try to reduce your medication now if you have been stable for that long. I frequently reduce my lamotrigine in the autumn without any problems. Sometimes i need to take more again in the spring. I do find the somnolence and similar side effects are cumulative and it is a problem for me too.
 
T

Tabby120

Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2019
Messages
14
Location
Private
#15
As well, it really hits me if I forget to take a pill. If I miss one dose I feel like someone's put me on about 100 sleeping pills. I can barely move.
If it's worse when you miss a pill, rather than better, it sounds like there's something else causing the extreme sleepiness, and the lamotrigine is countering it but only partially effective against it.
 
Tabby 88

Tabby 88

ACCOUNT CLOSED
Joined
Oct 20, 2018
Messages
473
#16
lamotrigine is very sensitive to not being taken on time because of the short half-life compared to some other medications. I was told to take it at the same time every day and that this was really important. I have not noticed any major problems taking it an hour late but was told a more than one hour before or after problem. I don't know but all medications cause problems. It's annoying but they are all as bad as each other in my experience. I hate having to take anything.
 
M

MLeona

Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2019
Messages
5
Location
Arizona
#17
Hi
I don't post here very often but I was wondering if anyone else is on Lamotrigine? I've been on it for coming up two years but I'm really sick of it. The somnolence side effects - drowsiness, feeling zombiefied, motor coordination difficulties, confusion, hypersomnia, difficulty concentrating - are really doing my head in and making work so much more stressful than it should be! I really need my wits about me at work and it's almost impossible on this drug. As well, it really hits me if I forget to take a pill. If I miss one dose I feel like someone's put me on about 100 sleeping pills. I can barely move.

Anyone else having these problems? I have always doubted by cyclothymia diagnosis because I'm sure my only symptom is anxiety but I'm still a bit scared that they might be right - I mean, they're the doctors after all! If I was to go off lamotrigine and stay off all types of pills after that and it turned out I was cyclothymic, how would that affect me? My mental health has improved substantially over the years and I'm better now than I ever have been, though I'd put that down to life experiences and maturing and learning new perspectives more than I would the pills. I don't want to ruin all my hard work by quitting the pills, though, if it turns out they are helping to keep me stable!

Thanks for reading.
Hi,

My dose is 225 mg and I have notice a couple of those symptoms. My shrink had warned me that the motor coordination difficulties and (occasional for me) confusion is common for a dose that high. She told me that if it was too much to "handle" then she would recommend dropping my dose back down or adding another medication to balance the symptoms out. I agree with Tabby88 on the fact that every person is different on how their body responds to the medications, but my shrink also told me to try to take the medications at the same time every day for the best result. My shrink mentioned that taking at the same time every day would lesson the side effects a bit. I hope this helps :).

Thanks and good luck!