Prevents seizures and stabilizes mood. Lamictal (Lamotrigine) is most useful for treating severe seizure disorders, and for bipolar disorder with more depression symptoms than manic symptoms. Just be careful to increase your dose slowly to avoid skin rash.
Helps control your thoughts and mood. Abilify (aripiprazole) is good for treating psychosis and mania, and can help with depression. It's less likely to cause side effects than other antipsychotics.
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› Abilify (aripiprazole) can make you gain weight, which can also increase your blood sugar and cholesterol. If you're at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholestetrol, talk to your doctor how to lower your risk.
Upsides and benefits
› Effective at lowering the frequency of seizures in people with epilepsy or Lennox-Gestaut syndrome. Typically used together with other medications for severe seizure disorders.
› Works best for partial, tonic-clonic, and absence seizures.
› A first-line treatment for bipolar disorder. Effective long-term treatment for stabilizing mood. Prevents both depressive and manic episodes, but the effect is greater for preventing depression.
› Doesn't require routine blood tests.
› Effective at relieving psychotic symptoms and manic episodes.
› More energizing than other antipsychotics.
› Fewer side effects than other antipsychotics.
› Studies show that it can also be helpful for depression, especially in women, if your symptoms don't go away with an antidepressant alone.
› Available as a generic, which is cheaper.
Downsides and risks
› Can cause double vision, dizziness, sleepiness, and headache.
› Has the risk of a rare but life-threatening rash.
› Can make hormonal birth control less effective.
› Might be less effective than other medicines for treating manic episodes (acute mania) in people with bipolar disorder.
› Mild risk of extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS), a movement disorder that includes stiffness, tremor, restlessness, and slow, repetitive, or involuntary movements.
› You might need routine blood tests to check how the medicine is affecting your body.
› All antipsychotics come with side effects that make them difficult to take. You might need to try a few different medicines until you find the one that works for you and that you can tolerate.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
› Follow dose adjustments set by your doctor to minimize skin rash.
› Take with food to avoid upset stomach.
› Report rash, blurry vision, fever, persistent headache, or neck stiffness to your doctor.
› Makes hormonal birth control less effective.
› Takes 4 to 6 weeks to feel full effects on mood.
› Takes 4 to 6 weeks to see full effects on thoughts and mood.
› Makes you energized. Take in the morning to avoid difficulty sleeping.
› For the first week, avoid activities that require you to be alert.
› May increase cholesterol or blood sugar.
› Report any unusual thoughts, inability to control muscle movements, or fever and excess sweating to your doctor.
› Available in pills that you take daily, and as a monthly injection.