Sunday, September 4, 2011

Lamictal 100 mgs: Some Observations On Mood and Side Effects

My mood has been much better since titrating up to 100 mgs of lamictal.  I'm having fewer mid-afternoon slumps, and when I do have them they're not as severe.  My cognition, motivation, and concentration have continued to improve as well.  Yay!  I might just get my mood to a truly good place before the Equinox heralds the dying of the light.

The side effects of lamictal have continued as well.  Most of them haven't been too problematic, except for loss of appetite, which can lower my mood if I don't make myself eat.  Anyway, here are my observations in greater detail.  I've put the main points in bold for those of you who aren't interested in the greater detail. :)

My sleep has gotten better, though if I keep all the lights on my my living room it can easily be 2 am before I notice.  But I sleep more deeply, and I don't awaken as often during the night.  If I can get to sleep at a reasonable hour, sometimes I can even wake up before my alarm goes off.

My appetite has gotten worse -- much worse.  For most of the day, food just seems unappetizing to me.  I have trouble eating breakfast and have no interest in lunch.  The upside to this is that I've lost the weight I gained on the cursed NorthStar lamotrigine, and I'm beginning to lose some of the weight I gained from Abilify and Lexapro last winter.  The downside is that if I don't force myself to eat breakfast, my mood can suffer.

I'm not sure why, but my body seems to want salt and fat (maybe it wants fat because it craves calories, if not food?) .  The breakfasts that have been appetizing, that I've enjoyed, have been my really weird omelet, a brunch last week that included scrambled eggs and salmon, and a mushroom and spinach empanada I ate yesterday at the farmers' market.  Not sure what's up with that.  I'd love to hear whether other folks taking this med have noticed anything similar.

(Click on "Read More" for observations on skin and muscle tone)

As far as other side effects go, the rash (but not The Rash) I noticed during the first week has completely vanished.  There was new dermatitis for the first day or so, but nothing major, and my face continues to itch sometimes; however, this has gotten to the point where I don't even notice it.

As far as other skin reactions go, I got sunburned last weekend, and that seems more severe than usual, given that I immediately treated it with aloe gel ... but on the other hand, I was wearing a lower cut blouse than usual, and since I've even taken to swimming in long-sleeve running shirts, that part of me hasn't seen the light of day in years.  And I'm of Irish descent.  Irish descent = extreme white pastiness. A former colleague of mine (last name: Cavanaugh) was told by her dermatologist (last name: Halloran) that "Irish skin was never meant to see the outside of a pub".  So true.

The amazing lack of muscle stiffness also continues.  Gotta say, this is my favorite side effect!  Over the years, I'd come to accept delayed-onset muscle stiffness (DOMS) as the result of any strenuous physical activity.  My muscles have always been extremely tight, even at the age of 12 when I first joined the swim team.  My athletic performance probably suffered from this -- one of my coaches believed that if I could just get my muscles to loosen, my stroke would become more efficient, and I could easily be in a much higher competition class.

My muscles were tight even when I worked with a physical therapist/trainer who made me stretch between ever set, use a foam roller after working out, and then stretch some more.  Doing all of that healed some of my old injuries, but I was still stiff and sore on a pretty much constant basis.  When I began working out on my own, I continued with the foam-roller and stretching regime.  I still enjoyed constant DOMS.  Then I started taking lamotrigine.  I've been afraid of this side effect going away, or becoming attenuated as time goes on, but so far so good.  I hope it stays this way.

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