Lamictal vs Seroquel

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For patients dealing with bipolar disorder or other types of mood disorders, certain drugs that alter the concentrations of compounds in the brain linked to mood can be beneficial for stabilizing extreme mood swings and managing symptoms. Lamictal and Seroquel are two such drugs prescribed for these conditions. They each impact different neurotransmitters in the brain, but both have mood-stabilizing effects on patients with bipolar disorder. Lamictal is an anticonvulsant drug which works by decreasing abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It's commonly used as a long-term treatment option to manage or prevent manic episodes.

Seroquel, on the other hand, is classified as an atypical antipsychotic medication primarily affecting levels of dopamine and serotonin (neurotransmitters) in the brain by blocking their receptors. It's known for its effectiveness not only in treating mania but also depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder.

What is Lamictal?

Lamotrigine (the generic name for Lamictal) is an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic drug that was a notable advancement from the first generation of epilepsy drugs. It's used to control seizures in people with epilepsy and to stabilize mood in those with bipolar disorder. On the other hand, Quetiapine (Seroquel) is an atypical antipsychotic medication approved by the FDA in 1997, primarily used for treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and as adjunct treatment for major depressive disorder. Seroquel affects several neurotransmitters in the brain including serotonin and dopamine, thus its side effects can be more pronounced than Lamictal which has a primary action on sodium channels in neurons to stabilize neuronal membranes.

What conditions is Lamictal approved to treat?

Lamictal is approved for the treatment of several mental health disorders:

  • Epilepsy, both in children and adults
  • Bipolar Disorder (for long-term mood stabilization)
  • Prevention of depressive episodes in patients with bipolar disorder

On the other hand, Seroquel is also approved for multiple conditions:

  • Treatment of schizophrenia
  • Acute manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder
  • Maintenance treatment of bipolar I disorder (as an adjunct to lithium or divalproex)
  • Adjunctive therapy to antidepressants for major depressive disorder

How does Lamictal help with these illnesses?

Lamictal, also known as lamotrigine, helps to manage mood disorders such as bipolar disorder by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain. It achieves this by decreasing the release of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that nerve cells use to send signals to other cells. High levels of glutamate can cause excessive stimulation of nerve cells which could lead to conditions like epilepsy and bipolar disorder. By reducing these high levels of glutamate, Lamictal can limit overstimulation and stabilize mood swings.

On the other hand, Seroquel is an atypical antipsychotic medication that works primarily by blocking receptors in the brain's dopamine pathways. Dopamine is another vital neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood among other things. Overactivity in certain dopamine pathways has been associated with symptoms seen in schizophrenia and manic episodes of bipolar disorder; therefore Seroquel acts by reducing this overactivity allowing patients to better manage their condition.

What is Seroquel?

Seroquel is the brand name for quetiapine, an atypical antipsychotic that works by modulating the action of several neurotransmitters in the brain including dopamine, serotonin, and adrenergic receptors. It was first approved by the FDA in 1997. Unlike typical antipsychotics, Seroquel does not overly suppress dopamine activity but balances it more subtly which helps to reduce certain side effects like movement disorders common with other antipsychotic medications. Its broader spectrum of action means its side-effect profile differs from that of mood stabilizers like Lamictal (lamotrigine). In particular, it can cause sedation and weight gain but less likely to cause serious skin reactions—a notable risk associated with Lamictal. The effect on various neurotransmitters can be beneficial for treating symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder especially in patients who do not respond well to "typical" mood stabilizing drugs such as Lamictal.

What conditions is Seroquel approved to treat?

Seroquel is an antipsychotic medication that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of several serious mental health disorders. It's primarily used to manage:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder (both mania and depression phases)
  • As an add-on treatment for major depressive disorder when other medications have not provided sufficient relief

How does Seroquel help with these illnesses?

Seroquel, also known as quetiapine, works primarily by blocking dopamine receptors in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that aids in regulating mood and behavior, among other things. Low levels of dopamine have been linked to depression and other psychiatric disorders. Seroquel increases the availability of these dopamine signals, which can help alleviate some symptoms associated with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Its action on serotonin may also contribute to its effectiveness as an antipsychotic medication. Because it does significantly affect both dopamine and serotonin levels, unlike Lamictal which mainly affects glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) pathways, it is often prescribed when a patient has not responded well to mood stabilizers such as lamotrigine (Lamictal), or may be combined with them for better effect.

How effective are both Lamictal and Seroquel?

Both lamotrigine (Lamictal) and quetiapine (Seroquel) have established histories of success in treating bipolar disorder, and they were initially approved by the FDA within a few years of each other. Since they act on different neurotransmitters, they may be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of lamotrigine and quetiapine in managing symptoms of bipolar disorder was directly studied in several clinical trials; both drugs exhibited similar efficacy as well as comparable safety profiles.

A 2003 review demonstrated that lamotrigine is effective at stabilizing mood starting from the first weeks of treatment, with its side effect profile being favorable over many other mood stabilizers due to fewer instances of weight gain or cognitive difficulties. Lamotrigine has been reported to be especially beneficial for those experiencing depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Also noteworthy is its use during pregnancy where it poses less risk than some alternative medications.

Quetiapine's role in treating acute manic and depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder has been evaluated through multiple studies indicating it to be more effective than placebo. Nonetheless, quetiapine is often considered alongside or after other first-line treatments owing to potential side effects such as sedation or metabolic changes like weight gain. However, due to its unique pharmacology involving serotonin-dopamine antagonism, quetiapine can prove optimal for patients who did not respond well to other treatments or who need additional help managing insomnia.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Lamictal typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Lamictal for adults range from 25-200 mg/day, but studies have indicated that a maintenance dose of 100-200 mg/day is typically effective in managing bipolar disorder. Children aged 2 to 12 may be started on an initial dosage of 0.15 to 0.6 mg/kg per day depending on whether it's used alone or with other medications. In either population, the dosage can be adjusted over several weeks based on individual response and tolerability. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 400 mg/day under any circumstances.

On the other hand, Seroquel oral dosages vary greatly depending upon the condition being treated and patient response. For schizophrenia treatment in adults, doses usually start at around 25 mg twice a day which can be increased by increments of up to 50–100mg two or three times on consecutive days as tolerated until an effective dose is reached - generally between150 –750mg/ day divided into two or three doses.

For children (age:13–17), initial dosage starts at approximately half the adult starting dose i.e., around50mg once daily increased by up to100mg/day till an optimal level is achieved; usually within500–600mg/day taken in two divided doses.

Remember these are general guidelines only and your doctor will tailor make your prescription based upon your personal medical history and needs.

At what dose is Seroquel typically prescribed?

Seroquel treatment is generally initiated at a dosage of 25 mg/day. The dose can then be increased to 100 mg/day, divided into two doses, spaced 12 hours apart. If required and well-tolerated, the dosage may be further adjusted upward by increments of up to 100 mg/day every other day to achieve an optimal response. For severe conditions such as acute manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, the maximum daily dose for Seroquel can go up to 800mg per day, typically divided into two equal doses taken in the morning and evening. It's crucial that this medication regimen is closely supervised by a healthcare provider due to potential side effects and individual variability in response.

What are the most common side effects for Lamictal?

Side effects of Lamictal can include:

  • Dizziness, drowsiness
  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
  • Headache
  • Double vision or blurred vision
  • Tremors, lack of coordination
  • Rash (which could be serious and should be reported to a doctor immediately)
  • Nausea, vomiting.

Common side effects of Seroquel include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Somnolence (sleepiness/drowsiness)
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach/indigestion.

While both medications have their own unique set of side effects, they also share some common ones like dizziness and sleep issues. It's important to consult with your healthcare provider for any concerns about these potential side effects.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Lamictal?

In rare cases, Lamictal and Seroquel can cause serious side effects that need immediate medical attention:

  • Increased thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • Signs of severe allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Severe skin reactions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome: fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain followed by a red or purplish rash that spreads leading to blistering and peeling
  • Vision problems like blurred vision, tunnel vision or seeing halos around light sources; eye pain or swelling could also be experienced
  • Cardiovascular issues including fast heartbeat/pulse rate; fluttering in the chest; shortness of breath; sudden dizziness which might give you a feeling of passing out
  • Potential for low sodium levels (hyponatremia) - symptoms include headache confusion slurred speech severe weakness vomiting loss of coordination and unsteadiness. Severe nervous system reaction - very rigid muscles high fever sweating confusion rapid heartbeats tremors feeling like you might pass out. If any one these are noticed seek emergency help immediately. Potential signs of neuroleptic malignant syndrome (for Seroquel): agitation hallucinations fever excessive sweating shivering fast heart rate muscle stiffness twitching loss of coordination nausea vomiting diarrhea.

What are the most common side effects for Seroquel?

Seroquel, a commonly prescribed atypical antipsychotic medication, has its own set of potential side effects. These may include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Upset stomach or vomiting
  • Constipation or difficulty with digestion
  • Blurred vision and other changes in eyesight
  • Drowsiness, potentially leading to disturbances in sleep patterns
  • Increased heart rate
  • Potential feelings of restlessness or agitation, which may lead to anxiety or nervousness
  • Weight gain rather than weight loss is often reported by Seroquel users
  • A rash could be indicative of an allergic reaction and should be reported immediately
    -Increased urination can also occur as a side effect. -Dizziness and headaches are common complaints among many patients taking this drug. -Muscle stiffness or joint pain may also arise as a result of Seroquel use.

It's essential that anyone experiencing these symptoms while on Seroquel consult their healthcare provider for assistance in managing them.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Seroquel?

While Seroquel is generally safe and effective, it can cause some serious side effects in rare cases. These include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Mood or behavioral changes such as increased depression or suicidal thoughts
  • A sudden high fever coupled with confusion and fast heartbeats
  • Uncontrollable muscle movements which may become permanent over time
  • Blurred vision, eye pain, seeing halos around lights
  • Fast or irregular heartbeats that feels like fluttering in your chest
  • High blood sugar - Increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth.

If you experience any of these symptoms while using Seroquel seek immediate medical attention.

Contraindications for Lamictal and Seroquel?

Both Lamictal and Seroquel, along with most other mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications, may worsen symptoms of depression in some people. If you notice your depression worsening or an increase in suicidal ideation, thoughts, or behavior while taking these medications, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Lamictal nor Seroquel should be taken if you are using certain drugs like dopamine agonists (used for Parkinson's disease) without consulting your physician. Both these drugs can interact negatively with such medications causing serious side effects. Always disclose to your doctor about any medication that you might be taking; certain medicines will require a period of time to clear from the system before starting on Lamictal or Seroquel to prevent dangerous interactions.

How much do Lamictal and Seroquel cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 60 tablets of Lamictal (100 mg) averages around $580, which works out to approximately $19–38/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price for a pack of 30 tablets of Seroquel (25 mg) is about $200, working out to roughly $6.67/day.

Therefore, if you are in the higher dosage range for Lamictal (i.e., 300 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Seroquel is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which drug is right for you.

In terms of generic versions:

  • Generic lamotrigine (the active ingredient in Lamictal) comes with an average cost ranging from around $0.10 to $0.35 per day for dosages between 100 and 400 mg/day.
  • Quetiapine fumarate (generic version of Seroquel), available as packs starting from 15 up to several hundred tablets per package, has costs fluctuating between roughly $0.20 and just over one dollar daily.

As always it's important to recognize that prices can vary based on factors such as location and insurance coverage among others.

Popularity of Lamictal and Seroquel

Lamotrigine, available under the brand name Lamictal, is a medication primarily used for treating epilepsy and bipolar disorder. In 2020, it was estimated to have been prescribed to about 3.1 million people in the US. It accounted for around 15% of antiepileptic drug prescriptions in the US and has seen an increase in prescription rates over the past decade due to its efficacy not only as an anticonvulsant but also as a mood stabilizer.

Quetiapine, often known by its brand name Seroquel, is another medication commonly used in managing schizophrenia and bipolar disorder symptoms. This atypical antipsychotic was prescribed to approximately 2.8 million individuals across America in 2020. Quetiapine represents about 10% of overall antipsychotic prescriptions within this period. Although quetiapine's usage has been steady over recent years, there are concerns regarding off-label use such as for sleep disorders due to potential side effects including weight gain and metabolic syndrome.


Lamictal (lamotrigine) and Seroquel (quetiapine) are both utilized in the treatment of bipolar disorder, with significant clinical evidence supporting their effectiveness over placebo treatments. They may be used together under a physician's careful consideration as they can also have contraindications when combined. The primary difference between them lies in their mechanisms of action: Lamictal functions by inhibiting voltage-sensitive sodium channels, thereby reducing the release of excitatory amino acids such as glutamate and aspartate; conversely, Seroquel acts on various neurotransmitter receptors including serotonin, dopamine, histamine H1, and alpha-1 adrenergic receptors.

Lamictal is often considered a first-line treatment for bipolar depression while Seroquel is frequently employed to manage acute manic episodes or used as an adjunctive therapy to other mood stabilizers like lamotrigine.

Both medications are available in generic form which offers substantial cost benefits especially for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. However, there may be an adjustment period required for either drug meaning that therapeutic effects might not become apparent immediately.

The side effect profiles differ somewhat between these two drugs: while both are generally well-tolerated, some users report weight gain with Seroquel use while others note rash development more commonly with Lamictal usage. It's crucial that patients closely monitor any changes particularly during initial periods of medication intake and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms worsen or if they start harboring suicidal thoughts or tendencies towards self-harm.