How Long Does it Take for Lamictal to Work?

Lamictal (lamotrigine) can be effective in treating symptoms of bipolar disorder and some seizure disorders. Lamictal is in the prescription drug class known as anticonvulsants and is believed to balance levels in the brain to stabilize activity and prevent mood swings. It’s important to learn how any prescription drug works and most people wonder how long it takes for Lamictal to work before they decide to try the bipolar medication.

Understanding more about the onset of action before starting a new drug can help manage expectations so you feel confident in your treatment plan. Keep reading as we explore how long Lamictal takes to work and other information you should be aware of about this bipolar medication.

Average Timeline for Onset of Action

The big question before starting a drug is usually how long it takes to work. Mood improvement, along with reduced severity and frequency of mood swings, can be experienced as soon as the first few weeks of taking Lamictal, but it may take months in some people.  

According to research, Lamictal often begins working effectively within several weeks of starting it, although dosage adjustment is common with this drug. It’s vital to increase Lamictal dosage slowly to prevent certain adverse side effects of Lamictal. 

Initial Lamictal response: Many people notice small changes in their mood disorder symptoms soon after starting Lamictal. For example, mood stabilization improvement can be experienced relatively quickly — often in just a few weeks.  

Stabilization response to Lamictal: It might take months before you experience the full results of a mood stabilizer medication like Lamictal. Knowing this can help set your expectations and reduce frustration if the drug doesn’t immediately offer you the best outcome. 

Factors Affecting How Quickly Lamictal Works

Keep in mind that medications won’t always work exactly the same for everyone, and individual experiences can vary. 

Research suggests that triazine anticonvulsants like Lamictal work by binding voltage-gated sodium channels to inhibit the release of glutamate (a neurotransmitter). This might stabilize brain activity and prevent mood disorder symptoms like mood swings and depressive episodes. 

Several factors can affect how quickly Lamictal works. 

Dosage adjustments

With a drug like Lamictal, dosage adjustments are necessary, especially in the beginning. It can be frustrating when medication doesn’t immediately work exactly as you had hoped, but be patient as you work with your doctor to get the right dose for optimal results. Be sure to take the Lamictal or lamotrigine dose exactly as directed and talk to your doctor along the way. 

“Lamictal requires a slow dose titration to reduce the chances of developing a skin rash. The dose should not be increased faster than recommended by the mental health provider. It may take several weeks to months to provide the optimal mood stabilization.”

 – Talkspace psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger

Individual factors

Individual factors like body chemistry, weight, age, severity of symptoms, and more can impact how well a drug works and how long it takes to be effective. Because we all have unique body chemistry, medications can metabolize differently in each of us. For some, a Lamictal or lamotrigine dose will work quickly. For others, it can take more time. 

Interaction with other certain medications

It’s crucial to let your doctor know about every medication, vitamin, and supplement you take before beginning a new drug, and this is also important when taking Lamictal. Some drug interactions with certain medications can affect Lamictal’s efficacy and how quickly it’s absorbed in the body. Even drug interactions with common or over-the-counter medications — like some cough syrups, folic acid, or hormonal birth control contraceptives — can have adverse effects on Lamictal. 

How Do You Know if Lamictal is Working?

If you’re wondering how long it takes for Lamotrigine to work, you’re probably also wondering how to tell if the drug is actually working at all. 

If Lamictal is effective for you, you might feel like you have a better outlook on life, you’re able to control your stress better, or you’re less reactive to situations. 

Additional signs Lamictal is working for you might include things such as:

Your daily functioning improves

You have an enhanced quality of life

You’re sleeping better

You have more (and stable) energy throughout your days

You can focus on tasks better

You see improvement in personal relationships 

Your work or school performance improve

You start to have longer intervals between depressive episodes

One of Lamictal’s biggest benefits is that it can delay occurrences. This means if it works for you, you might experience a noticeable decrease in the frequency of depressive episodes. 

What to Do When Lamictal is Not Working

Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned that Lamictal isn’t working for you. Before completely giving up or deciding you want to change bipolar disorder medication, your doctor will likely first adjust your dosage. 

Dosage adjustment

Your doctor might reevaluate your dosage if they feel you’ve been on your current dose long enough to expect noticeable improvement. Remember that it can take time for your body to adjust to a new dosage, so you might need to wait several weeks (or even months) before you know if a new treatment plan is working.

“It is not recommended to quit Lamictal suddenly. This is because restarting the medication later may increase the risk of skin rash. A restart of Lamictal would require returning to the starting dose if it has been 5 days or more since stopping the medication. If considering discontinuing Lamictal, always discuss it with your mental health provider first. The discontinuation of Lamictal takes at least 2 weeks of lowering the dose until stopping completely.”Dr. Dion Metzger


A combined approach that includes both medication and therapy for bipolar disorder is typically most effective for treatment. Talk therapy (also known as psychotherapy) can help prevent relapse into depression. In fact, one study found that people who engage in group psychoeducation are over two times more likely to not have a relapse compared to the placebo group. 

Another meta-analysis found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy are linked to depressive symptom stabilization in people living with bipolar. The study also concluded that combining pharmacotherapy (using drugs) with traditional skills-based therapy and intervention is beneficial in treating bipolar disorder. 

Explore alternative drugs

Some medications just don’t work for everyone. If your doctor has tried adjusting your dosage, but Lamictal still doesn’t seem to be working as well as you want, it might be time to explore other drug options. There are many types of medications used to treat bipolar depression, so don’t give up hope if Lamictal doesn’t seem effective.

Consider weighing the pros and cons of Lamictal vs. Lithium.

Make lifestyle adjustments

Lifestyle changes are simple to implement and can benefit your physical and mental health. Working out, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and learning and using stress-coping tools can all play an essential role in maintaining optimal mental health. Results can be drastically improved when you combine a healthy lifestyle with medication.  

Get Personalized Mental Health Treatment with Talkspace

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed about trying to find the right bipolar disorder treatment. Talkspace makes the journey toward customized mental wellness easy, convenient, and affordable. With Talkspace, you can get tailored therapy and medication management help to treat bipolar disorder symptoms, all from the comfort of your home.

If you’re ready to explore options to treat your bipolar disorder, Talkspace can be a valuable resource. Reach out to Talkspace today to learn more about seeing a psychiatric provider and getting prescribed Lamictal online. 


Ng F, Hallam K, Lucas N, Berk M. The role of lamotrigine in the management of bipolar disorder. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007;3(4):463-474. Accessed February 25, 2024.

Betchel NT. Lamotrigine. StatPearls [Internet]. February 13, 2023. Accessed February 25, 2024.  

Chiang KS, Miklowitz DJ. Psychotherapy in Bipolar Depression: Effective Yet Underused. Psychiatr Ann. 2023;53(2):58-62. doi:10.3928/00485713-20230119-01. Accessed February 25, 2024.

Miklowitz DJ, Efthimiou O, Furukawa TA, et al. Adjunctive Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review and Component Network Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. 2021;78(2):141-150. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.2993. Accessed February 25, 2024.

The post How Long Does it Take for Lamictal to Work? appeared first on Talkspace.

Nous vous invitons…

Nous vous invitons à prendre rendez-vous avec un de nos psychologues, psychothérapeutes et psychopraticiens afin de faire un premier pas vers le changement que vous désirez. Si vous désirez obtenir de plus amples informations ou si vous avez des questions, n’hésitez pas à nous téléphoner. Vous pouvez prendre un rendez-vous par téléphone ou en envoyant un email au cabinet des Psychologues de Paris 9 (à l’attention du psychologue ou psychothérapeute de votre choix).