Lamictal (lamotrigine) no better than placebo

The Last Psychiatrist (I couldn’t find the post) has spoken about this before and now CL Psych really gives us the dish:

GlaxoSmithKline, manufacturer of lamotrigine (Lamictal), the antiepileptic drug used widely for bipolar disorder, happily hid clinical trial results which found Lamictal was no better than a placebo. Given recent findings about how often pharmaceutical companies selectively push positive results to publication in medical journals while suppressing negative results, this can hardly be considered a surprise. It is nonetheless instructive to examine how the published data on Lamictal paint a much rosier picture of the drug’s efficacy compared to unpublished data….

….Ghaemi also did some digging on other drugs used for bipolar disorder and found that negative studies for Seroquel and Abilify were also lurking in the unpublished zone. However, it appears that Lamictal is the worst offender of the bunch. Is it just me, or is anyone else getting flashbacks to GSK’s handling of suicide data regarding its antidepressant Paxil? (read the rest of the post here)

I’ve known this in my gut for years. And as CL Psych writes the medical journals were calling it old news too, but who actually knew?? Not prescribing physicians.

The tragedy for me and so many of us coming off Lamictal? The withdrawal can be DEVASTATING. Click on that link to see the hundreds of comments left by people suffering withdrawal from this med that DOES NOT DO what it is purported to do!

The post on lamictal withdrawal gets more hits than any post on this entire site. It’s old and buried in the archives yet hundreds of people a week are googling “Lamictal Withdrawal” and finding my post. Why are they googling that?? It doesn’t take much to figure out most of them are having problems getting off lamictal.

**I’ve posted another 83,000 word document with hundreds of comments by Lamictal users coming off. 

Nasty withdrawals from a drug that does not even stabilize mood more often than placebo. Think long and hard people. Because most people in withdrawal face gross instability among other sometimes debilitating symtoms. This is a case of the drug, in withdrawal, causing the problem it’s supposed to treat while it most likely never did in the first place.

INFURIATING.

**note: this article is about Lamictal when used for “mood-disorders,” not epilepsy. Someone found this via google and found it confusing.

Much more info: Lamictal Redux

41 thoughts on “Lamictal (lamotrigine) no better than placebo

  1. Wow..You know, it feels good to read an article like that filled with information that proves what we’ve known all along. Lamictal is useless. It’s a terrible drug that has horrible effects on a lot of people. It makes me sick how these psych drug companies take advantage of people who are in such desparate need for help. All we want is something to help us get some relief from our hell of symptoms and they know that. That’s why they go out and advertise these drugs as being “miracles” because they know people will buy it. The truth is they don’t care about the public or the devastating effects their so-called miracle drug is having on people. All they care about is how much money they can make off of us. A big sarcastic thanks goes out to the big drug companies. This makes me so angry and sad.

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  2. I’ve tried everything at this point, and Lamictal is the only one that does work for me, but I mainly have the lows, the only two mood stabilizers that treat the lows instead of just the highs are Lamictal and Lithium, Lithium is horrible on the liver, so it’s just Lamictal for me, I’ve been on it for about 12 years now, my only complaint is the price :/ Does anyone have any other suggestions for a mood stabilizer that treats the lows? I’m curious about cheaper methods 🙂 When I’ve went off my Lamictal the withdrawals are a pain at first, but I haven’t experienced long term withdrawals, just the same as any other drug I’ve had to come off of. I have several friends that have similar symptoms as me with the depression and ups and downs, Lamictal has been the only one that works for them too. We just want a generic form in the states.

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  3. Lamictal is available generic in the US now and has been for several months.

    Lithium, by no means treats depression in everyone…Lithium crushed my soul and left me so suicidal it was horrible. As soon as I got off it I felt much better. I know that is true for many people.

    It’s true that Lamictal can give a lift for some but for many people it’s temporary. But it’s not a mood stabilizer.

    It’s also true that some people don’t have nasty withdrawal, as you’ve suggested about yourself…but people need to know the potential danger of horrible withdrawal…

    I link to the post in which withdrawal is discussed in my post and here:

    https://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/2007/12/20/lamictal-withdrawal-from-hell/

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  4. Thank you. Every bit of validation helps. I’m taking it for epilepsy, not BP, and I don’t know what the research has shown for that. It has not changed my seizure pattern at all. I think I am so angry about so many drug hells I’ve been put through that I can’t even tell anymore. Time to make some corporate effigies and burn them! I am truly enraged. I have so far also been out on depakote which gave me jaundice, dilantin which made me so dizzy I couldn’t stand, tegretol which gave me a hideous ten day headache, massive codeine which I then had to do inpatient detox from–complete with crawling skin, tremors, diarrhea, vomiting and jumping out of my skin, and keppra which made me delusional/psychotic and strangely suicidal. And that’s just in the last decade or so.

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  5. Aurora,
    In my experience of psychotropic drugs when they are used in other conditions the withdrawals are the same…

    In fact, I’ve now encountered a lot of people who were put on various psychotropics for all sorts of physical conditions who did not have a psychiatric history but as a result of the psychotropic, whether that be antidepressants used for pain, or benzos used for muscle stiffness among all sorts of other scenarios, once these people get on the drugs psychiatric symptoms develop…much like your experience with Keppra though that’s a drug not used for mood stabilization…

    they all mess with your brain.

    and though Lamictal was designed for Epilepsy it’s still a psychotropic and the withdrawal feels that way.

    I’m sorry you have to play on the med merry go round just like we do…

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  6. Wow, I had no idea there was a generic form here! Its good to know! Thank you 🙂 I actually had to delay my wedding because of the cost of my medication, I won’t get insurance coverage after I’m married.

    I’ve tried so many meds, a lot were only temporary and then they stopped working, but for about 12 years now it’s been very steady. And so far the friends I have that are on it are doing good too, so hopefully it stays that way. I realize every drug has its pros and cons, and with some people it might have a bad effect, but until I read this blog I hadn’t known anyone that has had a bad experience with it, that’s including those taking it as an anticonvulsant as well. I noticed you said it wasn’t a mood stablizer? But it does stabilize moods, anyone that takes it as a mood stabilizer that I know personally does very well with it, and it is considered and prescribed as one by doctors. I’m not trying to argue with you by saying that, I just wasn’t sure why you said that? 🙂

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  7. I said it’s not a mood stabilizer based on the study above, but also based on my experience as a social worker working with hundreds of people on drugs, and finally as a student of withdrawal reading thousands of emails.

    It does not work for mania…therefore the most that can be said is that it may, in some cases, elevate mood — that’s from my experience. Also, placebo effect is real. People respond to meds whether their active ingredient is doing it or not. According to CL Psych info it doesn’t work for depression either more than placebo…but that really isn’t surprising as placebos work about 30% of the time for depression. So if people have the experience of one of these drugs working it may very well be placebo…

    Finally, I will allow that the fact that it does not out-perform placebo does not mean that in all instances it does nothing but it’s unlikely that it’s doing much—specifically as a mood stabilizer.

    I will say I personally had a major lift of mood when I went on Lamictal. Major. It lasted all of 5 months, yet I took Lamictal for about 12 years. Why??

    I simply don’t want to take neurotoxic unproven medications for a problem I don’t even believe I have anymore. And especially if the drug has outlived it’s utility.

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  8. So you aren’t on anything anymore and are fine? I wish I could get to that point, I’ve gone off my medication a few times in the past, however my lows return. The Lamictal doesn’t elevate me, but it decreases my lows on a major level. I get a lot of lows throughout the day if I’m not on it. I’ve tried so much stuff in the past, I’m big on natural medicine above anything, so I’m always looking for new remedies. But, Lamictal really has been the only one that has been steady, I just about gave up on all medications before trying it.

    But, yikes! I just read this http://www.crazymeds.us/lamictal.html I know it’s hard to decipher what is real or not online, but according to this it says techincally you shouldn’t be on Lamictal for more than 18 months? Good to know, lol. Doctors scare me, they blindly prescribe medications. I looked up prices for the generic Lamotrigine and I noticed the US prices are still way higher than the Canadian. ugh.

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  9. Gotta check out the crazy med link…they are pretty thorough, but decidedly biased towards meds…I’m curious as to what they say…

    I am not off everything yet…

    I’m on 2 mg of Klonopin down from 3 mg and that is it…I’m off everything else (about 6 other drugs—high doses)

    I’m working on tapering off that now too and am in process.

    I use all natural methods to support me…beyond diet and nutrition it’s important to exercise and meditate, for me…

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  10. just read the crazy med thing…it doesn’t really say you CAN’T take it more than 18 months, just that you should be evaluated regularly…

    and by the way, no I’m not fine…

    I was on 7 drugs I am sufferering from severe withdrawal syndrome. My mentor in all this calls it

    CHEMICAL INJURY

    I am physically disabled. I am so weakened I can hardly walk more than a few minutes…I have chronic headaches, sensitivity to light and noise, intermittent severe nausea—I could go on…but I won’t.

    I’m not psychiatrically “sick” though, just grossly physically impaired which of course makes me depressed.

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  11. Sorry! I didn’t read that very well obviously. I’m in the process of doing a thousand things at once and was rushing when I read it. 😡

    All of your physical sickness is from withdrawals or something else? If I may ask 🙂 I have a lot of health problems (heart), so aside from my ups and downs, I have depression from fatigue, I hate how it all goes hand in hand. You were on seven medications at once?

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  12. I wish I could say much more than “holy crap!”. I am currently taking Lamictal and honestly…I can’t say if its working or not. I’m pretty stable…TODAY. ha! Its so hit or miss with me.

    As you know (I’m on a different screen name I think…I’m changing blogs…but I have posted once before.), I am thinking long and hard about coming off my meds at some point. I’m scared about that…and now even more so.

    It really makes me angry. I’m mad because I’ve been lied to. I’m mad because the system is set up in such a way that if I vocalize any intent to change, to do something for myself OTHER than medication, to question my diagnoses…I’m labeled as even MORE crazy and treated with MORE medication. *sigh* I feel so screwed.

    I’m currently on the hunt for new providers. I’m really hoping to find a sympathetic p-doc and therapist this time around.

    And, thanks to you and your site, I am learning so much about meds, what they do and what they don’t do and about the process of getting off them.

    And I do know that it is a *process*.

    I think my thoughts are getting stranded. Best to stop now. 🙂

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  13. I’m sorry! I’m not trying to be nosy, I just like talking with people that have similar issues as me, especially when they can be of help! I appreciate your time 🙂

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  14. yes 7 at once and yes, I was not physically as sick before the withdrawals, though you can imagine 7 sedating meds do a number on you…I can’t say I was bursting with energy then either, but it’s gotten profoundly worse.

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  15. Wow! I hope you can some sort of relief soon! My health problems have put my life on hold more than once, lately I’ve gone through a lot with my physical health problems, I’ve had to have a few surgeries and a lot of testing done, like I said I won’t get medical insurance after I get married, so I have to hurry and try to get most of it taken care of now while I can, ugh. I couldn’t imagine being on 7 medications, the most I’ve been on at any given time I think would be about 3 or 4.

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  16. hey miss lillyanne,
    good to see you again…

    sorry to feed the angry ghost!!

    take your time making any decisions. if you choose to try withdrawing it’s really important to do it right…

    I need to contact you…the guy I was hoping would see you never called me back which makes me think the psychiatrist he works with is not on board.

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  17. Not surprising, and no less infuriating. How about we begin a class-action lawsuit???

    Given ALL of the stories we have posted, and are fortunate to understand, WHY NOT?

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  18. Roman, there is one started, but I think it’s only for the Steven-Johnson syndrome (rash). Find a lawyer—I would consider it………….

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  19. I’ve looked into class action lawsuits for various issues I’ve encountered and no one took any interest at all…if anyone feels like finding someone who does let me know about it.

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  20. A relay just triggered in my foggy lil’ brain… I **THINK** Lamictal is one of the anti-epileptic drugs my FIL was on…
    [Gotta go Google some more links]
    Of course it’s all academic now – he’s irreparably damaged & the British healthcare system has basically warehoused him, waiting for him to die…

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  21. Thank you for the informative post.

    We are no longer patients, but guinea pigs. When I go to see the doctor it almost feels like I’m going to some kind of pharmapimp.

    The problem is that when you’re suffering you want something to end the pain. That’s why you go to the doctor and most of the time all they do is push pills on to you. They have no real ideas of what’s going on. It’s all guess work. Many of them read the literature from the pharmas and that’s it. They cannot be bothered with anything else.

    Some of that is the system and some of it is the collective unconsciousness of our society.

    It’s funny…I found this article because I am trying Lamictal again and have dipped into a really dark, really depressed mood. I am not really surprised at this info, but it is disappointing to think the one drug that doesn’t kill your liver, kidneys, etc. is just another bullspit money maker.

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    • good luck Andrew…
      I don’t like meds and obviously make that clear, but some people, regardless of the statistics find Lamictal helpful, as does Lizzy above…

      I prefer dealing with my issues as parts of my being that need care…holistic, natural, care. So I use diet, nutrition and meditation among other things…now that I’ve withdrawn from almost everything…

      the thing is not everyone wants those things. and some people aren’t interested in making major lifestyle changes…so I just wish you the best and hope you find a solution that makes sense for you.

      peace.

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  22. Thanks.

    That is the failing of the medical system. They do not look at things from a whole body perspective.

    It is more like going through a McDonalds drive-thru. They want you out as quickly as possible. I am currently on disability for BP and have noticed that the only thing my doctor, therapist (whom I just fired), claims rep, etc. want to talk about is my meds.

    When I try and bring up looking at other things, I get dismissed. I am taking matters into my own hands because I am going to recover. I have heard how I will never get better and all the other negative crap and (when I’m not in a dark place) I don’t believe it.

    I hope you are doing well this late night.

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  23. by the way, when I committed to doing it naturally, even when I’m in a dark place the commitment holds and some sort of faith carries me…

    we don’t have to believe their crap even when we feel like shit.

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  24. that is most excellent.

    the ego is like the little devil in the cartoons that whispers in your ear when you are in that hell region. it is only commitment, faith, etc. (it doesn’t matter what you call it; the words are simply pointers) that can keep you going strong. it’s inspirational to read stories like yours.

    thank you for doing what you do.

    ‘night.

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  25. hi Gianna Last time i posted was end of 11/08 my laptop had a virus i just was too sick to follow up and fix it I am still alive I have new doc ya know other then the Dr. that gave me Lamictal in the first place On 11/26 I went to see him and he took me off Lamictal 12.5mgs all I ever took I was ready to do it like i told you I started at 12.5 at end of 08/08 took 6 days made me depressed agitated strange feeling of being alert anyway supposed to have opposite affect right o.k. went 2 wks started with panic attacks,crying jags,sweating,sensitivity to sound headache ya get the picture so i went back on it thinking withdrawal will go away guess what after 10 wks little improvement couldnt really drive some days i could still some days agoraphobia anyway so i figured i had nothing to lose so as of 11/27 I am off Lamictal slowly getting better can drive everyday a.m. depression gets better as day goes on I have been out of work since labor day thank God I had over 100 sick days on the books I think I used these by now and am into 100 vacation days I would be very interested in class action suit not for the money but the human suffering we can prevent P.s. doc put me on depokote just 500mg I had to do it as moods were rocking back and forth and increased my Paxil to 40mgs as I was on 25 down from 50mg and am now on Seroquel how ironic the whole reason i went on Lamictal was because doc said it would be easy to get off Paxil with Lamictal on board and then could get off Paxil how ironic Im now on 3 medications Its just HORRIFIC at what this drug did to me anyway I am still ALIVE and Im starting back to GYM on treadmill this is small miracle as when I think where I was in 09/08 anyway sorry to blabber but you get the point

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  26. Linda,
    you’re on the med merry-go-round…did you do stuff to prepare your body for any of this??

    diet, supplements, meditation, therapy…seeing a naturopath or integrative doc to do some tests for underlying physical problems??

    if there are underlying reasons that aren’t addressed (psycho-spiritual or physical) you won’t come off easily…and you need to do really slowly as well…

    there is lots of resources to info on how to prepare your body and mind on my about page…

    you might do well getting some of the books I recommend.

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  27. I was on lamictal 150mg. I missed one dose two weeks ago. Within 12 hours of missing the dose I had a psychotic episode and severe depressive episode. I had never had a psychotic episode and hadn’t had a black depression like that in 20 years and had done better on no meds at all for all of that time. I also had significant GI symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, upper stomach pain. I told my psychiatrist about this “coincidence” and he said I had the flu. Over the past two weeks I have been in the hospital due to a 20 lb weight loss, and dehydration due to the above symptoms. I just can’t believe that this all happened on the same day and they write it off to something other than a lamictal related episode. Has anyone else had anything like this and how long will it last? I wanted to lose weight…but not like this.

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  28. The next day I started right up again on the meds until I could see my psych two days later. At least he took me off, but he told me to quit cold turkey even after I mentioned warnings I had read about it. How long do these episodes last? I’m at 2 weeks and a day at this point and about as miserable as I was on day one. At least I’m on meds to stop the GI symptoms.

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  29. Doug,
    I can’t give you explicit medical advice but I would find a doctor who would agree to reinstate the drug and then come off it very slowly—a proper withdrawal can take several months and even years depending on circumstances…

    you’re suffering from acute withdrawals right now…

    and there are much better ways then medications to control GI symptoms…

    please visit my about page…it will help you learn how to treat your body/mind/spirit naturally and help point you in the direction for appropriate research through this process.

    https://bipolarblast.wordpress.com/about/

    you need to decide to learn everything you can and help your doctors help you…because frankly most of them don’t know how…but I’ve found good people willing to learn with me…advocating for yourself is the most important thing you can learn to do right now…best to you.

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  30. Lamictal gave me a lift and first, which probably was a lift that came out of me naturally anyway, and then… nothing… and then it made me lose half my hair in a month. It is the trendy drug in the BP world right now but I’m finding most people feel just flattened by it. Not stabilized, flattened.

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  31. I too, felt a lift and lost a bunch of hair. Then it made me feel depressed so I withdrew slowly, which was hell. I eventually felt much better after coming off of Lamictal. In fact, I found this blog due to my Lamictal withdrawal. It’s my opinion that all psychiatric drugs primarily flatten emotions, and that’s it. Whether or not we want to be flattened should be a choice. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind anyone?

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  32. the first 3 months on Lamictal was the best I ever felt since I started on drugs…and then it was over…that’s a good way to make people psychologically attached if nothing else…how much worse might I feel without it??

    mood issues are not a problem now…physical debilitation from the detox is…

    in any case…so as not to scare people…most people do not get as debilitated as me…but I was on a whole hell of a lot more than Lamictal…

    the thing is the real debilitation I suffer is ALL linked to when I was withdrawing from Lamictal…when I came off the 4 other drugs I did not feel that way…

    now with benzos I feel that way too…for me Lamictal and benzos are the worst…

    but we all have different worsts.

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    • I’ve met people who’ve had no problem coming off benzos and a hell of a time coming off other stuff…in general though I do agree with you.

      I met one woman who was on 2 mg of Klonopin for over a decade. Came off of it in two weeks with NO symptoms…

      same with Effexor…one of my friends husbands cold-turkeyed and felt NOTHING — two different times after being on it years…and it has a nasty ass reputation too…

      we are simply not all alike.

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