With this post, we continue our biweekly series on medications used to treat bipolar disorder and related symptoms. This week, we focus the spotlight on Trileptal (oxcarbazepine) – an anti-seizure medication that has been increasingly used to treat bipolar disorder. Following are some facts about Trileptal:
I have used Trileptal sparingly because of the lack of data supporting its use. I have not found it to be particularly effective when I have used it, but it has been well tolerated and hasn’t caused weight gain. One young man found it very helpful and has stayed on a low dose of Trileptal for a long time, so it certainly can be beneficial in some individuals.
In general, Trileptal should be reserved for use in individuals who have not been able to tolerate therapeutic doses of more well studied medicines or have not had good effects from the more standard treatments.
Although most people tolerate Trileptal, it does have some drawbacks and negative side effects, including the following:
A decrease in sodium level may not produce noticeable symptoms but may cause nausea, drowsiness, impaired thinking, and confusion.
Less common side effects include memory impairment, concentration difficulties, rash, and weight gain.
Rare side effects include rashes and severe reactions exhibiting swelling of the face, eyes, lips, or tongue; impaired breathing; or difficulty swallowing. In very rare cases, Trileptal has been linked to Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, a serious skin reaction.
Caution: Never stop taking any medication cold turkey, especially an anti-seizure medication. Withdrawing an anti-seizure medication too quickly can actually cause seizures. Always consult your doctor before you stop or decrease your medication.
If you’ve taken Trileptal for bipolar disorder or are a doctor who has prescribed it, please share your experiences, insights, and observations.
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From Psych Central's website:
Mood Stabilizers for Bipolar Disorder - Psych Central (January 14, 2009)
Last reviewed: 12 Sep 2008