How To Use Lamictal In OCD Treatment

Some people with severe OCD conditions are resistant to first-line treatment. This unsatisfactory result has led researchers to search for more effective drugs to manage the disorder. Lamictal is one of those drugs and has proven helpful in OCD treatment.

Those with OCD who are prescribed Lamictal should learn how to properly use it to avoid complications.

Curious about clinical trials for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Researchers are studying thousands of new treatments and you could be a part of finding a cure while accessing the newest treatments for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and what are its causes and symptoms?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common anxiety disorder. It causes persistent and unwanted thoughts, worries, or fears (obsessions). People with OCD manage these obsessions through repetitive activities (rituals or compulsions). 

These obsessions and compulsions can affect daily activities and bring great distress. Trying to stop or overlook your behaviors will often worsen your anxiety.

What are the causes of OCD?

Healthcare professionals are unsure of the exact cause of OCD. However, environmental factors, brain abnormalities, trauma, depression, anxiety, and genetics can play significant roles. OCD usually begins in young adulthood but can also begin in childhood. The condition affects both women and men.

Symptoms of OCD

Some people experience compulsions and obsessions, while others can have obsessive or compulsive symptoms. Common obsessive symptoms include:

  • Fear of touching dirt or germs

  • Repeated doubts(such as whether the door is locked)

  • Worrying about things not being in an orderly manner

  • Fear of self or someone else getting hurt

  • Repeated thoughts of sexual acts

  • Having suspicions of a partner's unfaithfulness with no cause to believe it 

Common compulsive symptoms include:

  • Washing hands until your skin turns raw

  • Checking doors many times to ensure they're locked

  • Counting in a specific pattern

  • Repeating a word or prayer in your mind 

How do health care professionals diagnose obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Trained mental health professionals like psychologists or psychiatrists can use their experience and judgment to diagnose OCD. Most mental health professionals use a structured clinical interview to check if symptoms match OCD diagnostic standards.

Treatment typically starts immediately after the diagnosis.

Can Lamictal help in treating OCD?

Lamictal is a brand name for Lamotrigine and physicians use it as an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer. Lamictal also has anti-glutaminergic properties and can help treat obsessive-compulsive disorder. Many studies have supported its effectiveness.

Administering selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) or serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRI) is usually the first approach to managing OCD. In cases where people are resistant to SSRIs or SRIs, Lamictal can be considered an option. 

Research¹ shows that Lamotrigine augmentation is effective in treating SRI-resistant OCD. Another study² that supports that augmentation with Lamotrigine proved helpful in treating OCD in people with drug-resistant OCD.

Lamictal can treat other conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

What should my doctor know before I start taking Lamictal?

Here are some things you should discuss with your physician before taking Lamictal:

  • Your most distressing OCD symptoms

  • If you have suicidal thoughts

  • Past OCD medications you took and their effects

  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • If you have other medical or mental health conditions

  • Present medications you may be taking and/or any known drug allergie

  • If you use hard drugs or drink alcohol

  • If you are receiving non-medication treatments like substance abuse treatment or talk therapy

How should I take Lamictal?

People prescribed Lamictal usually take it once or twice daily, with or without food. However, your dose will depend on your age, medications you may take along with Lamictal, and if you have liver or kidney problems.

Usually, people with OCD start with a low dose of the drug before increasing it slowly over many weeks. The dose is normally between 25mg to 400mg. Your physician is the only person that can determine the right dose for you.

For Lamictal extended-release (Lamictal XR) tablets, swallow whole and avoid crushing, chewing, or splitting the pills.

Allow Lamotrigine orally disintegrating tablets to stay in their packaging. Ensure your hands are clean and dry before opening the package to take the dose and avoid putting the tablet in a pill box. The tablet will dissolve once you put it in your mouth, and you can swallow it with or without fluid.

Don't forget to take your dose. You can use an alarm clock, calendar,  cell phone alert, or other methods as a reminder. Your friend or family member can also remind you or check in with you to ensure you don't miss a dose.

Is it OK to suddenly stop taking Lamotrigine?

OCD requires long-term treatment. People are often tempted to stop taking Lamictal when they feel better. Don't stop taking the prescribed drug or change doses unless your doctor says otherwise.

Skipping or missing Lamictal doses can increase your anxiety. Lamictal will work best if you take it daily or as directed by your physician.

What will happen if I miss a dose of Lamictal?

If you miss a dose of this anticonvulsant drug, take it immediately. But don't take it if it’s almost time for your next dose. Do not try to double your dose to augment the one you missed or take more doses than prescribed.

Contact your doctor if it has been longer than three days without taking your medication.

What should I do if I overdose on Lamictal?

If there is an overdose, contact 911 or your doctor because you may require immediate medical attention. Side effects from overdose include changes in heart rate, unconsciousness, clumsiness, and fast and uncontrollable eye movements.

There is no special treatment to reverse the effects of Lamictal, but you should still seek medical attention immediately if you overdose on Lamictal.

Does Lamictal have side effects?

Lamictal may cause mild to severe side effects. Factors like other health conditions, age, and additional medications you may be taking may influence these side effects.

Mild side effects include:

  • Nausea

  • Insomnia

  • Vomiting

  • Runny nose

  • Body pains

  • Mild skin rash

  • Headache

  • Increased sex drive

  • Diarrhea

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

These effects will typically disappear in days or weeks, but if they persist, talk with your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

Serious side effects of Lamictal are not common. Side effects can continue or even worsen if you keep taking Lamictal. Contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Blurred vision

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Mouth or throat ulcer

  • Severe skin rash

  • Low blood cell counts

  • Aseptic meningitis (inflammation of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord)

  • Blue fingernails

  • Low immunity level

  • Increase in eosinophils (a white blood cell)

Does Lamictal interact with any medications?

The level and effect of Lamictal may increase when used with valproate. Medications that can decrease the level and impact of Lamictal include:

  • Anticonvulsants like phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, and primidone

  • Birth control pills

  • Rifampin and ritonavir

Lamictal may increase the effects and levels of Clozapine.

How long does it take for Lamictal to work?

After taking Lamictal for a few weeks, inform your physician about how you feel. It may take many weeks to see significant changes in your OCD symptoms to know if Lamictal is the proper medication for your condition.

People with OCD usually take this medication for the rest of their lives. Remember, only your healthcare provider can tell you when to stop this medication.

The lowdown

Lamictal can help in managing OCD if used properly. Take the drug according to your doctor's directions and ensure you don't take multiple or skip doses. If you miss any dose, take it once you remember. 

Ensure you don't take Lamictal with certain drugs that cause interactions. If you experience any severe side effects, consult your physician right away. Keep your doctor informed at every step of the journey.

Curious about clinical trials for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

Researchers are studying thousands of new treatments and you could be a part of finding a cure while accessing the newest treatments for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Discover which clinical trials you are eligible for

Are you curious about clinical trials?
Have you taken medication for Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?
Have you been diagnosed with Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)?

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