It is rare for a medical professional to have expertise in navigating Lamictal tapering.
Mood stabilizers like Lamictal, can cause serious side-effects and it is reasonable to ask if a person who was once symptomatic should really be medicated for a lifetime knowing that there are other ways to approach mental health.
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Alternative to Meds has led the field in Lamictal tapering for over 15 years. We have published evidence demonstrating our success. Medical issues like aspartate accumulation from artificial sweeteners, food allergies, and genetic variations may contribute to symptomatology, and we can address these factors often using much less toxic methods
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A person may want to consider Lamictal tapering, for some very good reasons. At the Alternative to Meds Center, Lamictal withdrawal protocols vary depending on whether a physician prescribed the drug to treat epilepsy or bipolar or other conditions.
Common Reasons Doctors Prescribe Lamictal
FDA granted approval for prescribing Lamictal (generic lamotrigine) to prevent seizures in persons with epilepsy or other seizure-related conditions. (1) The FDA also granted additional approval for use in delaying the onset of bipolar-related mania or depressive episodes. As time progressed, physicians began to prescribe Lamictal, like so many other drugs off-label as a (not FDA approved) treatment or add-on treatment for other conditions.
For example, the drug was prescribed to treat PTSD, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, agitation after traumatic brain injury, and other conditions and types of mood disorders. Drug therapy has become nearly automatic for myriads of conditions and symptoms, but unfortunately, drug-based therapy can present consequences that are unsafe, and undesirable. (2)
Understanding Psychiatric Disorders
However disconcerting it may be, consider that these mood disorders and seizure disorders not completely understood. Also, neither do practitioners completely understand how mood stabilizers “work”.
At Alternative to Meds, we focus on exploring root causes and treating underlying factors and precursors rather than blindly or desperately masking symptoms. Our center offers much to benefit clients focused on similar goals. We provide much information on this site to explain how we take the time to test for and treat root causes for symptoms in very effective yet gentle ways. That differentiates us from those who can only mask symptoms. Most drugs cause some degree of anesthesia inherently. Because we seek to reduce symptomology in this fashion, the need to continue with drug-based therapy can often be reduced, or sometimes entirely eliminated.
How Long Should a Person Take Lamictal?
Before deciding how long a person should take Lamictal, one can observe there are many individual factors to consider. For example, tolerance, dependence, the intensity of side effects and other unique situations can vary from one person to another. If a physician prescribed Lamictal as a maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder, the length of time the FDA recommends taking this medication is limited to 16 weeks. (1)
The FDA clearly stipulates that the prescriber should re-evaluate the patient at that interval to find whether continuing the drug will be of any benefit to the person. If the physician decides to discontinue the drug, the FDA stipulates doing so gradually and not all at once. This would be a good time to consider possible benefits from a Lamictal tapering program. Careful monitoring and discussion with one’s caregiver can help to answer this question well for each unique person.
Side Effects of Lamictal
If the prescriber gave lamotrigine to prevent seizures, the patient may express wanting to be freed of the unpleasant side effects that Lamictal causes. This may be especially vital where the drug did not control seizures as well as expected. Lamictal is particularly known for causing rashes, some of which can be severe and life-threatening.
The drug brings about other risky side effects, including a condition known as hypersensitivity. Hypersensitivity presents an allergic-type of reaction with fever but without the rash, and can be fatal. Other risks include suicidality and acute multi-organ failure. Lamictal causes many other unwanted types of outcomes. Commonly, less severe side effects can reduce the quality of one’s life. This list includes symptoms such as slowness in thinking, memory problems, fatigue, dizziness, headache, insomnia, nausea, and so on. These symptoms can affect different people in different ways. People differ in how well or poorly they can tolerate these common side effects. (1)
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Of great interest, studies (3) have shown that adhering to a ketogenic diet can prevent or reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures. A ketogenic diet regimen could reduce or eliminate the need for anti-seizure medication without causing an unchecked return of seizures. In trials done on various types of epilepsy patients, regardless of age or gender, those following a ketogenic diet experienced a drop in the frequency of seizures between 75% and 90% of participants compared to the control group.
The control group reported no similar reduction in the frequency of seizures. For a wide variety of epilepsy patients, other forms of nonpharmacological treatments such as Yoga, controlled breathing techniques, stress reduction skills, and meditation have also produced a statistically significant reduction in both frequency and duration of seizures compared to the control group of participants.
Off-label Uses for Lamictal
Often, a physician will prescribe Lamictal for “off label” uses, perhaps as an add-on medication for certain conditions. These could include depression, the treatment of borderline personality disorder. PTSD or after a traumatic brain injury. For example, it may be that the drug was not working as expected. So, one might consider safe Lamictal tapering, especially where a person is interested in pursuing some alternative non-drug-based treatments. A person may want to achieve a reduction in medication or eventual elimination in some cases. However, the person hopes for a reduction in symptoms as well.
Discovering Underlying Causes for Symptoms
Many have found that alternative (nonpharmacological) treatments can be more effective and, fortunately, do not cause the unpleasant side effects that drugs like Lamictal cause. The programs at the Alternative to Meds seek to discover as much as is possible, the reasons why a person is burdened with unwanted symptoms. We can address these underlying factors, and relieve the need for high dosages of neuroleptic drugs. Neuroleptics can become ineffective and even harmful if taken for an extended time frame. Lamictal tapering or reduction may help provide a better balance, reduce risks and increase overall benefits of treatment.
Where to Find Out More Information
The Alternative to Meds Center has helped many find alternative treatments that can be just as or even more effective than only relying on medication. For those who have not found satisfactory outcomes with medication-based treatment, this may be of quite some benefit to consider.
Contact Alternative to Meds Center Today
As always, please feel free to contact us at the Alternative to Meds Center to find out more about treatment options that may interest you or a loved one. Certainly, we can help answer questions you may have about insurance coverage, length of programs, and other information that could help during your decision-making phase. The Lamictal tapering program at the center may provide you or a loved one an alternative path and workable options to realize better mental health without a lifetime of unpleasant side effects from drug-only treatment.
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.