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Lamictal and/or Ambilify — Irritability?

I’m new here and I haven’t gotten around to writing my “introductory” post; but, I feel like I need to jump the gun and ask if anyone out there has experience with taking Lamictal (Lamotrigine) for anxiety and/or Ambilify (Aripiprazole) for depression. I’ve been on both for about 10 days. They seem to be helping with both the anxiety and depression (to a lesser extent); BUT, I seem to be experiencing a LOT of irritability. I noticed it starting last Saturday after I had been on the medications for four days.

I’ve been on Ambilify before and don’t recall any issues with irritability so I’m suspecting the Lamictal might be the culprit.

The other odd thing I’ve noticed since going on these meds is that I am starting to fall back on “bad habits” that I stopped almost two years ago, namely, staying up late and drinking. I’m not drinking to the point of inebriation but it is more than usual. I’m also finding myself wanting to start smoking again — after having quit over four months ago.

Both the irritability and drinking concern me. Maybe mores the drinking since I’m trying to reduce my weight and A1c. I was diagnosed as being on the customer of pre-diabetic back in June. (I HAVE managed to loose almost 34 lbs since then.) My psychiatrist mentioned that either Lamictal or Ambilify, I can’t remember which, could cause weight gain and elevate A1c.

Has anyone had similar experiences with Lamictal and/or Ambilify?

21 Replies

I've been on both in the past. Abilify caused me crazy nausea I couldn't tolerate, so I didn't stay on it long. I tried Lamictal for a couple of months. Yes, it made me terribly irritable and prone to angry outbursts. Doc took me off of it.


Thanks for the info. The doctor didn't mention irritability as a side effect for Lamictal. As for the nausea you mentioned, it's weird, but I don't seem to ever get "physical" side effects from medication -- just mental/emotional ones. So far, I've been able to control the irritability, at least around people. I think I'm going to give it a little more time before I talk to the doctor about it.


Hello lost in life, I havnt been on any of these meds I'm on sertraline, so sorry can't help you there. Ask you're doctor how long before you'll notice any real positive changes, and if after that you're still irritable maybe they'll change them. I too turn to having a drink when I'm in extreme depression, trying really hard not to do that, so understand. I couldn't easily go out and get a few cans now but have decided no , not tonight . So I get it . I lost 29 kgs and put it back on , must be all coke I drink with scotch for sure. Thinking of you and lots of love to you ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️I understand


Thanks. The doctor actually said that the meds should show some efficacy fairly quickly, if they were working with my neurochemistry. They're not like SSRIs that have to build up in your system to show any improvement. As I mentioned, they already seem to be helping with both the anxiety and depression. The weird thing about starting to drink again is that I'm feeling slightly less depressed. I think what's going on is that feeling better is making me want to do more art work; but, in the past, I had a bad habit of drinking and staying up late while working on art.

As for the weight loss, I'm shocked at how successful it's been. I feel like I haven't had to make terribly severe changes to diet and exercise -- but, I'm probably discounting my efforts. I am concerned that the stress and anxiety I've been experiencing is raising my cortisol. Ironically that's supposed to raise weight, but it's also supposed to potentially elevate A1c. I'm really anxious to find out if any of what I've done has lowered my A1c. Fortunately, I should know soon since I'll see my general practitioner and get new blood tests next Friday.


Hello, when I was on lamictal and it made me so irritable to the point it effected work, I have since swapped to seroquel which is so much better however it makes you sleep a lot!


Wow! Thanks -- good to know. I wonder why the doctor didn't mention irritability. Like I mentioned above, I've been able to control the irritability, at least around people. I'm not familiar with Seroquel though I've been on antipsychotics (for depression) in the past. I'm really paranoid of stuff that makes me sleepy. I had a really bad bout of generalized anxiety disorder back in 2000. My old psychiatrist tried to get me to take tranquilizers but the thought of not being able to stay awake if needed terrifies me.


Seroquel is an antipsychotic however you may not of heard of it as it’s mainly for bipolar so not sure if they suggest it if you have depression, and I believe it does have tranqulising qualities so maybe not a good shout. What dosage are you on? I’ve also started taking fluoxetine (apologises on spelling) with seroquel and it’s doing wonders!


I'm on 2 mg of Abilify and 25 mg of Lamictal. I'm supposed to go up to 50 mg of Lamictal on Tues. then up to 100 mg on Christmas Day. I'm not bi-polar but my maternal grandfather was diagnosed "manic-depressive." I've been on Fluoxetine (you spelled it right! ;->) before but it didn't do much. SSRIs have never had much of an effect on me... but I was drinking heavily most of the time when I was on them. I've actually had better results, for my depression, with stimulants like Adderall and Vyvance. I think there's some evidence that certain people's depression comes from slower activity in the prefrontal cortex just like ADHD. Arguably, I possibly DO have a touch of ADD (without the H).


Okay. I just realized something. We lost power this morning so I wasn't able to make coffee. I drank less than a cup of what was left from yesterday. It suddenly dawned on me that I'm much less irritable today. Maybe the irritability is a combination of Lamictal and too much caffeine? If so, that sucks... I LOVE coffee!


I've always been ok on Lamictal, all new drugs take time to settle. Side effects will sometimes lessen or disappear as the drug and body settle with each other. My advice would be to voice your concerns with the prescriber so that can keep an eye on things. Also please tell someone you have regular contact with so they can monitor changes. Hope all works out for you.

P.S re the coffee I have recently had to cut caffine out of my life due to a new diagnosis and the caffeine being a known aggravater. Decaf has had to be my replacement, mind over matter helps (sometimes!)


Thanks. I don't have lots of side effects usually so I guess I tend to over-react when I do have them. Anyway, the irritability seems to have lessened. I drank my usual amount of coffee yesterday and didn't feel overly irritated... though it may have all been circumstantial.

As for coffee/caffeine in general, I've managed to cut way back on my consumption this year. I use to be so addicted to caffeine that I'd have withdrawal symptoms whenever I switched to decaf: severe headaches and lethargy! Now when I cut back severely I only feel a little tired.


I was on Lamictal for a very short time. It made me very itchy so I came off it. I'm told you need to give these meds time to work. good luck with everything!


Thanks. "Itchy"?! I hope I don't start psychosomatically feeling that! ;->


Hi there,

I've been on Lamictal for 10 years. I take the therapeutic dose of 300mg a day. I only take the name brand because I do feel it's better. When I first got on it, it just seemed like the right fit for me. I think you'd know right away if it's working for you. I have a mood disorder and generalized anxiety and severe PTSD. I was taking Abilify for a number of years. But my psychiatrist switched me to a newer version of that med. It's called Rexulti. It's got fewer side effects. I just started it 2 weeks ago. So far, it's really taking the edge of my anxiety and I haven't had a meltdown since I began taking it. And lastly, (I know what most people think out there) but I've been on Klonopin for a number of years. I feel like I'm able to maintain my "sanity" on Klonopin. Although I did try to taper off it. And did not have any luck. My anxiety came back with a vengeance. I told my psychiatrist about it as she watched me shaking and trembling as I walked into her office. And she re-assured me that I could stop the tapering and that's when she put me on that Rexulti. It's not addictive and comes with a starter pack and a $15 discount card for refills up to 90 days. I think you'll know what will work for you. It's different for everyone. We're not all alike. I wish you the best in finding what works for you.


Thanks. Actually, I WAS on Rexulti (as well as Trintellix, Vyvance and Gabapentin) up until January. It was doing pretty good -- in fact, I didn't have a major depressive/anxiety episode when my mother passed away a year before. Unfortunately, the company I was working for was forced to stop covering health insurance. (And, don't get me started on employment and health insurance. They're my top two sources of anxiety.) The subpar ACA plan I picked did not cover Rexulti and Trintellix, so I had to stop taking them, as well as stop seeing the psychiatrist I'd been going to for over 10 years.

Although I've had severe generalized anxiety in the past I think what I've been going through this year is largely "situational"... granted, the anxiety caused by my situation DID bleed over into most aspects of my life; so, I guess, it COULD be described as "general" at this point. Basically, after two untimely deaths I began to freak out about my own health... and, typically, avoided doing anything about it. Then the company I'd been working for since 1992 (!) closed down. So, for the first time since I "joined the workforce" in '84, I'm unemployed.

The Lamictal and/or Ambilify seem to be helping. I'm starting to feel better AND I'm starting to get my "act" together. I'm still having a little bit of a problem with avoiding stuff that stresses me out but I'm getting a little better.

Anyway, I'm glad the Klonopin and Rexulti is helping you. I know that GAD REALLY sucks!


Hi anonymous! I’m a fellow klonopin taker. Long-time taker. I hate it, but it is the only thing that keeps my anxiety at bay. I’ve also tried twice now ( with the help of my doc) to taper off, but awful withdrawal symptoms never stopped for me. 😔😔... you’re not alone! Also on Lamictal.... not seeing it helping, but was told to give it awhile ( 3 months already). Wish i didn’t need any meds, but that wish isn’t going to come true for me! ... your klonopin comrade!


Hi A!

Just a little background for you! I’ve had 7 back surgeries! ( 2 artificial discs, 3 fusions, Harrington rods, tailbone removed....and a partridge in a pear tree!🤣)... I gotta laugh, or else I’ll cry! I’m also on klonopin and have been during all surgeries! ( with no ill effects with anesthesia). My only comment to you would be to get a few more consultations from other ortho/neuro docs! They all have different ideas and modes of treatment!! You never know!

Wishing you a ton of healing and peace with your decisions. I’m available if you care to talk any further about my medical escapades!

( and people wonder why I have anxiety!) 🍀⭐️


ps... im 55!


I'm 57 years old but my body feels 20 years older.


I'm so sorry you've gone through so much loss in your life. I personally believe that those of us with pre-existing anxiety/depression features tend to take those losses in a very personal way. And no one seems to understand. It seems like the closer you were with that particular person, the more intense your emotions will become.

Regular grieving is a normal reaction. When I lost my Dad, I was only 28 and he passed at a very young age. He was only 63 years old and passed only a few months after his stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis. Losing him in such a way, just tore me up. Coming to terms with that loss drove me over the edge.

I ended up in a pysch hospital only 6 weeks after his death. And my diagnosis wasn't even anxiety back then. My doctor told me I was suffering from severe bereavement. I was so disconnected from everyone.

One day after he told me about his cancer diagnosis (and it was 2 days before Christmas), I was in a very bad car accident. A drunk driver hit me head-on at 65mph. That's when my PTSD happened. I sustained a severe head injury and had 30 stitches in my head. The bolt holding my car seat was snapped in half and it projected my head into the rear view mirror. It was and still brings up some strong emotions from me.

I was signed up to start college classes at an Ivy league school. I was going to carry 17 hours and work full time work study. That was too much intense stress and it broke me. I dropped out of school for a year and began flying 1800 miles up to see my Dad while he was recovering from his lung surgery. I left my son at home. He was only 5 then and he's autistic. I didn't want him to see his Grandpa that way.

Sometimes I think some of us just go through the worst experiences in the world and it really sucks. I also carried a ton of guilt feelings. The loss of my Dad happened only one year before my big move across country. I kept feeling that if I hadn't moved that he wouldn't have died.

Just before I moved from my home state, my Dad begged me to stay and offered me $10k for a down-payment on a house near his house. And I just turned it down and moved away anyway. I was still a bit rebellious at 28.

So losing my Dad made me feel like my world was falling apart. I was dealing with extreme traumatic events. Even decades later, I still think about the "what ifs". A few months later, the VA placed on my first anti-depressant, trazadone and then Klonopin.

But the greatest support happened shortly afterwards. I joined a women's trauma group and I gained so much support from it. I was a member for 6 years. I was a dedicated member. No matter what was going on in my life, I always made time for my group sessions. We were very close knit bunch of women who looked out for one another.

Perhaps a good local support group would help you. We all have our rough patches in life, but somehow we have to manage to get through them. Who knows maybe a better opportunity will come up where you'll have great health insurance. Good things are bound to happen for you. Take care..(sorry for my going on and on...I was a journalist in the Navy in my early 20s.)


Thanks. Wow... you've been through a LOT!!! I know you didn't intend it, but it really puts my own problems into perspective. I hope you don't still feel guilt about your father (though I completely understand the impulse to feel that). Stage 4 lung cancer is pretty severe; so, there really wasn't anything you could do about that.

Coincidentally, my nephew is autistic. It's pretty severe. Although he has some "savant" abilities, he's pretty much going to require extreme assistance for the rest of his life. I'm just amazed at my sister's strength in dealing with this. My hat's off to you as well.

As for group therapy, I've contemplated getting involved with a group, especially given the lower costs compared to one-on-one therapy,... buuuut, I have a real problem with social interactions. I'm not particularly suffering from social anxiety. I just have a lot of sensitivity to interpersonal interactions going wrong.

This includes romantic interactions. After a long term relationship ended in the late 90s I tried to find other people to date. I got so depressed with this that I finally came to the conclusion that just being uninvolved was less depressing (or devastating) than dealing with rejection.

I also came to the same stance with platonic friendships. Aside from a few new co-workers I really haven't become close friends with anyone since the 90s.

So, I'm pretty hesitant about the idea of joining group therapy. I really would like to find a new therapist... once I find a new source of income. The therapist (not the psychiatrist) I had been seeing since '96 retired in '16... and moved off to Oregon to raise sheep... I've been through a LOT of "life changes" (mostly negative) over the last three years.

Oh, and there's no need to apologize for "going on and on." I've been accused for being "verbose" when writing, too. BTW, I've worked in publishing my entire adult life (well, up until this year), but I was on the design/production/IT side.

Also, thank you for your service!


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