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How to Prevent Bipolar Depression Episodes?
Since nowadays there is no medicine to cure bipolar depressive disorder once and forever, one of the key tasks for healthcare providers, as well as for their patients, is to find the medication, which could prevent depressive and manic episodes from coming back.
In medicine it is called “maintenance treatment of the disorder” – when the goal is not to treat the current symptoms of the disorder, but to help a patient avoid new episodes of the bipolar depression in future or at least reduce their frequency and severity.
One of such long-term maintenance medications, used to treat bipolar depression, is Lamictal. In fact, this was the first medication after lithium, which received the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as the long-term treatment of adults with bipolar depression.
In fact, Lamictal works somewhere similar to a door lock – there is no use of locking it when the thief is already in the house; however, keeping the door locked on a regular basis will significantly reduce your chances to be visited by a thief in comparison to, let’s say, your neighbor, who always keeps the door unlocked.
Lamotrigine is the active ingredient of Lamictal. In fact, this substance belongs to a class of antiepileptic or anticonvulsant drugs. However, trying to explain the way, Lamictal helps to prevent recurrences of bipolar depression, will be a challenging activity, because the prescribing information on Lamictal indicates rather flatly that “The mechanisms by which lamotrigine exerts its therapeutic action in Bipolar Disorder have not been established”.
At the same time, other sources of medical information explain that Lamictal stabilizes the sodium channels in human brains, which are voltage-sensitive. This is said to prevent nervous system from releasing certain chemicals, responsible for stimulating the nervous system and causing typical symptoms (agitation, over-activity, euphoria, excessive movements, brisk thinking) of manic episodes in people, suffering from bipolar depression.
In order to take the most of Lamictal in preventing the bipolar depression recurrences, it is important to follow some of the recommendations. First of all, it should be kept in mind that Lamictal will not help in treating current mood episodes. That is why usually the treatment course with Lamictal may be started whether or not a patient is currently suffering from depressive or manic mood swing.
In most cases, doctor prescribes the lowest dose of the medication for the organism to get used to it. In a couple of weeks the dose may be increased. The range of available Lamictal tablets is described at the image below.
Lamictal belongs to the medications, the effectiveness of which depends much on a regularity of therapy. So, it is better neither to stop taking pills without talking to a doctor, nor to increase or decrease the prescribed dose. Keeping track of the symptoms may also be of great help to see whether the medication works for you or not.
Finally, a patient should be attentive to possible side effects, which can develop in response to taking Lamictal. The most common adverse reactions are not serious and include headache, dizziness, nausea, weakness, tiredness, runny nose, double or blurred vision.
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In case of the occurrence of the following symptoms with or without a skin rash, it is necessary to call a doctor immediately: hives, fever, swollen lymph glands, painful sores in the mouth or around the eyes, or swelling of lips or tongue. These symptoms may be the first signs of a serious reaction to Lamictal. In such cases, a doctor should evaluate the condition and determine if it is reasonable to continue taking the medication.
So, if someone feels he might benefit from preventing bipolar depression episodes rather than from fighting with each recurrence separately – he should talk to his doctor to find out whether Lamictal could be a reasonable option in his case.

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