View Full Version : Another new user's plea for help: dizzines & poor memory; lamictal & stimulants

11-20-12, 08:29 PM
After years of consulting numerous medical professionals (physicians, pharmacists, psychiatrists) and getting nowhere, I turn to you my internet brethren for assistance. I've been lurking off and on for some weeks now, and it seems like this community knows a lot of things my doctors don't. Help me forumites, you're my only hope.

Cutting to the chase:

I currently take 200mg of lamotrigine for Bipolar I, 30mg of Vyvanse for ADHD, and 0.5mg Xanax as a sleep aid.

I feel dizzy almost all the time and generally feel like I'm stuck in a mental fog - like my brain just won't work and I can't think. The sensation is hard to describe. If thinking were running, it's like I'm trying to run, but I'm waist deep in water. My short term memory is awful, and I have a hard time recalling what I hear, read, and experience. Every yesterday feels like last week.

"Dizzy" isn't really the right word either. It's like the frame rate of my eyes is abnormally low, and when I read my eyes no longer scan the words smoothly. Everything is choppy.

I'm 95% sure the lamotrigine is the culprit, but it's possible my other medications are exacerbating the problem. This past Saturday & Sunday I only took the lamotrigine, and the dizziness persisted.

I've explained my symptoms at length to 2 different psychiatrists, and neither seems particularly concerned, nor do they offer any kind of solution. They say they've never had anyone report side effects like these. I also talked to a general practitioner as well, and she ruled out any vascular problems.

What can I do? Has anyone else had similar experiences with these meds/disorders? I would really appreciate any advice y'all can give. Final exams fast approaching and the cognitive problems are a big issue, but I'm afraid if I quit taking the lamotrigine I'll have a second manic episode and end up back in the mental hospital...

Thanks so much.

Some personal history for those who care and haven't spaced out yet :P

3.5 years ago I had a manic episode, for which I was hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar I. This is the only time I've ever been manic. As a preventative measure I first started taking Lithium (which didn't go well) and then started taking Lamictal, eventually working up to a dose of 200mg. I've been on it ever since. I've taken both the name brand and generic brands. Prior to this episode, I had been experiencing symptoms of depression for years, and was on an SSRI at the time of the episode. I was also smoking a fair amount of cannabis prior to the episode. My doctor chose Lamictal b/c it also treats depression.

I was contemporaneously diagnosed with ADHD (predominately inattentive type) and have periodically taken Adderall to help manage symptoms. Fed up with the side effects, (dry mouth, irritability, robot-like affect, loss of appetite) I switched to Vyvanse (30mg) about a month ago and so far it seems to be going well.

Ever since I started taking the lamotrigine I've had periodic "dizzy" spells marked by the aforementioned sensations. Sometimes they last for hours, other times days or weeks. Sometimes I'd go months without a problem. At some point I figured out that if I take my lamotrigine at the same time every day I don't get dizzy, but lately I've been dizzy despite taking the drug every 24 hours within a 15 minute margin of error. If I recall, the Zoloft I took did the same thing, but it's been years...

P.S. thanks again to anyone who helps and I apologize if some things in this post don't make sense. Again, the brain isn't working too well lol.

11-20-12, 09:13 PM
Your post was, actually, very well thought out and written, so no worries about it not making sense :)

First of all, welcome :)

Secondly, I know very little about Bipolar I, but I was under the impression that with BP, you don't get stimulants because they may cause manic episodes, even if you're on medication for BP? Some other members may be able to chime in better than I.

As for the dizziness... I doubt it's the Vyvanse, unless you're not eating enough protein? I know it doesn't work *at all* for me unless I eat a specific amount of protein in the mornings... I'm not sure the actual amount of protein, but it adds up to a pb&j sandwich and a glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast... otherwise, oddly enough, I feel narcoleptic for the better part of the day.

Have you found in your internet wanderings any side effects of the lamotrigine? Whether a doctor or psychiatrist has heard of it being a side effect, it apparently is. If you can find *anything* on it online- print it and take it in with you. Along with any other info you can find that will help make your case. The more prepared we tend to be, the more they listen... sometimes :lol:

Good luck!

11-20-12, 09:32 PM
Please forgive me if this at all intrusive, but may I ask how old you are and the some of the circumstances that surrounded your original admit to the hospital?

One manic episode?

and can I ask about the depressive episodes? How badly do they wax and wane?

I do not have any idea about the ins/outs of bp
It sounds like the the lamotrigine could either be too high a dose? or is causing a reaction with the vyvanse

Have you ever stopped the xanax?

Have you ever stopped the vyvanse?

I mean completely cut each of them out to rule out it being one of those?

I can understand why you wouldn't want to stop the bp med, but that just seems alarming to me that none of those doctors even show concern.

YOU KNOW WHAT, dump those doctors, gps.. whatever

go get two opinions from two completely other psychiatrist and see what they say

I know that could be a lengthy/costly wait... but I wouldn't accept those answers from a doctor.

Not any day of the week.

11-21-12, 04:14 AM
I haven't had anything but positive side effects with lamotrigine but every med effects everyone differently, just as vyvanse was a total nightmare for me. My current pdoc won't give me any stims due to a substance abuse issue and I'm actually glad she wont. Lord knows I'm tapering off one addiction I certainly don't need another.

Anyways have you talked to your Dr about any of this? I've heard that some med combos can cause some really weird side effects.

11-21-12, 12:34 PM

Doctors are cautious when prescribing stimulant medication to people with Bipolar I b/c it has the potential to trigger a manic episode, but it's not at all uncommon for someone with Bipolar I & ADHD to take stimulants for the ADHD.

Thanks for the tip regarding protein consumption and the impact it has on the efficacy of the vyvanse. I specifically asked my doctor which types of foods I should/shouldn't take with the vyvanse with and he said it didn't matter.

I eat plenty of protein throughout the day, but never around the time I take my meds. I pretty much just pop the pills and scarf down an english muffin on my way to class. I'll try taking it with protein and see if that makes a difference.

I found a website yesterday called "ask a patient" and evidently I'm not the only one experiencing cognitive side effects from lamotrigine. On the contrary, it seems very common. I did a quick search and filtered the results by my age & sex (24 M) and most of the accounts mention cognitive problems resulting from taking the drug (link at the bottom of this post).

11-21-12, 12:44 PM
Energizer Jen,

Thanks so much for the response, and no I don't find your questions at all intrusive. Prior to my manic episode I had been experiencing symptoms of depression and social phobia for years. I was on zoloft for depression and took trazadone as a sleep aid.

During the two months preceding the episode I also smoked a small amount of weed on a nightly basis. It made me feel good and helped me sleep (unlike the trazadone). One night I got high and proclaimed that I had become "enlightened," and never came back down.

At first the mania was a welcome respite, but before long my life descended into chaos. At first I felt euphoric and had boundless mental and physical energy. I became delusional and my personality changed.

My friends became concerned, but had no idea what was wrong with me. At first they thought it was the marijuana, but I'd stopped smoking. Then I started hallucinating. Time seemed to speed up and slow down, I had all these visual distortions that messed up my depth perception, I couldn't read, and I could see smells. Then I thought people were speaking in funny accents to try and trick me, and that the release of a computer virus that would shut down modern society was imminent. I was paranoid.

Apparently I told my mom on the phone in all seriousness that I'd met Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and that prompted her to fly to my college and have me hospitalized.

I haven't had any real issues with depression in years now. The times when I was depressed were closely related to life circumstance (bad breakup, severe knee injury that prevented me from walking/driving for 6 months) and didn't last unreasonably long. My social phobia has greatly diminished over the years too, and it's no longer much of a problem.

I've stopped taking the Xanax for an extended period of time on several occasions b/c I wasn't having sleep problems, but don't recall it having any effect on the dizziness/cognitive issues. The longest I've stopped the Vyvanse is 2 days. Same goes for the adderall I was taking prior. On those days I had a very difficult time focusing, and seeing as I'm in school with finals fast approaching, I'm afraid to cut it out entirely for very long.

As far as psychiatrists go, they only seemed concerned about me getting a rash from the lamotrigine, and once I tell them I don't have any kind of rash, the rest is ho-hum. I've considered looking elseware, but it's difficult to find one and actually get an appointment. Perhaps I'm being cynical, but I don't see the point in going through all that trouble if I'm just gonna get another "beats me" shrug.

P.S. My dad was hospitalized for mental illness when I was young. He never told anyone what the diagnosis was but my mom & I suspect bipolar as well.

11-21-12, 12:48 PM

I've talked with my doc extensively about these issues. He says he's stumped, and when I asked if his colleagues might have any ideas, he said they probably wouldn't. :doh:

11-21-12, 12:57 PM
Let me know how the extra protein and Vyvanse works. Since it's broken down in our liver (I believe), the extra protein helps. I am not a science person, nor have I really read up on it... I only realized the correlation myself recently.