With Every Medication Comes a Side Effect

A number of years ago, my epileptologist and I were discussing whether Lamictal XR or another drug should be tried. We decided to attempt Lamictal XR, and if it did not help, I would be change meds.

I didn't fully realize the side effects that we ahead for me.

My psychological and cognitive side effects

I was getting psychologically dizzy and unable to stand for periods. I tried to justify why it might be happening. Maybe it's just anxiety or depression. Who knows? And I carried on.


Hallucinations started happening randomly. Even though they were realistic. Sometimes I thought I was seeing my dog until it disappeared. Freaky! But it was just my imagination. Or was it? Because at other points of time, it ended up being reality.


Depression and crying for no reason felt normal because it was how I acted after a boyfriend broke my heart. I would get kisses from my dog while lying down with tears spreading down my face.

My confidence was low and at points of time. I wondered how far I would get. Will I ever get to my destiny? (I am now in college learning about social work and will aim for a Ph.D. in philosophy.)


Social aggression happened. (But isn't that normal for almost anyone sometimes? I tried to justify it.) I had zero tolerance for anything or anyone who was annoying me.

My physical side effects when taking Lamictal

Nausea and weight loss

Every now and then, I randomly threw up a little. My stomach really hurt sometimes, so much that I was only able to stand for a few hours or a day. Get the Pepto Bismol, please.

My weight went down bit by bit. When I was first put on Lamictal XR, my weight went from 125 to 110 pounds. Now, for the last three years, I'm 96 pounds. My doctors say that my metabolism might be changing. Or is it something else?

Vision and mouth problems

My coordination sucked! Also, sometimes my vision became blurry, but I was use to it. I figured it's just blurred vision from Lamictal.

Also: dry mouth. It is so not pleasurable. Maybe I don't drink enough water? Or maybe it's just a side effect of the Lamictal XR? It can always be a combo or neither.

Being careful about medication levels

My medication levels randomly went above average a couple years ago. I was acting behaviorally off in the emergency room, repeating three names of who I wanted to speak to, and saying whatever else. I don't remember it much.

My epileptologist walked into the room of the hospital I was put in and asked, "Did you take extra Lamictal?" I told him no. The doctor then looked at me in the face and calmly said, "You don’t want to get something else wrong with you, so if this doesn't work, then you have to get an RNS."

My medication levels were lowered and I began to following a new diet, too.

Seizure-free... Until I wasn't

Four months later I had an appointment with my epileptologist, the nurse practitioner asked, "How many seizures did you have?" When I said "none," there was a dropped jaw and cheers of happiness.

But about a week later, I got dizzy and had to hold on to a table to stand for a half hour and was forced to go to an emergency room.

Discussing medication options with my doctor

Before seeing my doctor again, I did research on Onfi and phenobarbital.Both are depressants and potentially addicting. Therefore, when the upcoming appointment took place, I asked my epileptologist, "Do I have intractable epilepsy? Or do I need to be on a different type of drug?"

I then asked if I was right about the types of drugs that Onfi and phenobarbital are. "Yes, but phenobarbital is a barbiturate,” he responded. I told him the phenobarbital helped me the most since I was diagnosed. Onfi helped a lot, too. But should the Lamictal XR be lowered to see if it is causing seizures?

My doctor thought about it, and knowing me for 21 years and how I responded to meds, he decided to lower by Lamictal XR.

Lowering my Lamictal dosage helped side effects

The outcome was outstanding! My seizures decreased, coordination got a little better, and my dizziness and hallucinations ended. My mood swings swung away, depression disappeared, and anxiety went down. Now, throwing up is rare and I lost the dry mouth, too.

At the time, I discovered positive emotions I never felt before. If there is a good relationship in between you and your doctor, and you feel side effects from a medication and wonder if a change should happen, talk to them. And remember, side effects can be emotional or physical.

Talk openly with your doctor about your epilepsy meds

These things are sometimes not figured out easily. Some times it takes time, and ultimately, the doctor is looking out for your safety. Have patience with your doctor who may want to be cautious with medication changes.

Have faith and try to work as a team, not as enemies. Share your side effects and what you are going through with your doctor. You never know what will happen.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The EpilepsyDisease.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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