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Author: beccapooka Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 14995  
Subject: Re: Lamictal Date: 3/1/2006 12:41 PM
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Seriously, I didn't know these issues are so common and a known phenomenon? I never smoked, but I've had weird memory problems at times (erratic), but also definitely have odd problems with switching words and sometimes odd spelling (not necessarily typos because I'll do this when I write by hand, as well). You may have mentioned this before, but this is the first time I'm paying attention closely, ever. Certainly I have similar issues and not sure why it comes up more often than other times. Do you have more information about these things?

(Lamictal works on both mania and depression, but especially on the depression.)

Also, overall thanks much for sharing your experiences with Lamictal! I'm debating seeing a new doctor, getting different treatment, etc. and will consider medications to some extent, but I'm really trying to get more feedback by people for different things so I can go in with some point of reference.
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Meg,

The best thing about TMF is the exchange of ideas and just being able to arm yourself with quality (quite often anyway) information to use or not use as you see fit when you need it. I benefit from these boards at least as much as I offer benefit to others, so I am more than happy to share my experiences. I will again say that I think this pdoc is AMAZING to have come up with such an effective (and unique) combo of pills for my situation. I have only encountered one other pdoc like this... my son's doc. But he only treat children. Good luck finding someone who will work WITH you and who is worthy of the cardstock for all of their fancy certificates. They are few and far between!

As for the cognitive stuff... I wish I had an answer, I really, really do. I was expereriencing some of this before the Lamictal (and now that you are making me thinnk about it, it could very well have been during the months I was NOT taking Concerta.) I have researched this to some extent and can spit back some general info at you, but I don't recall all of the specifics, etc.

Nicotine (which is my starting point) is an interesting drug. It is the only drug (well, that stat is 20 years old and may not still be valid) that acts as both a stimulant and a depressent WITHIN THE SAME PERSON AT DIFFERENT TIMES. It's also a carefully controlled pesticide, so clearly there are drawbacks before you even start looking at the actual harmful effects of smoking. One of the things nicotine does as a stimulant is increase short term memory and problem solving abilities. I miss that.

It's a pretty common (and I think widely accepted theory, at least in some circles) that many people smoke to self-medicate. That goes for street drugs, alcohol, etc. There are other theories and other reasons, and they are probably every bit as valid. Smokers tend to start young and so the habit actually shapes their coping mechanisms, so maybe they wouldn't have needed the 'medication' if they hadn't started to begin with. But maybe they already have the condition and the smoking helps. (I say condition... it's not just one, it could bea number of things, especially with nicotine because of the way it reacts differently at different times. In addition to the memory thing it works on anxiety and depression and stress and relaxation, etc, etc, etc.)

Concerta (a stimulant) or any of the other meds used to treat ADHD has a similar effect. In my opinon, the nicotine works better, but the Concerta has fewer deadly side effects. :) I know a handful of people who quit smoking and were then treated for ADHD. I can use my brother as the opposite example: He took ritalin for YEARS and now he does not, but he smokes now.

My recent (pre-Lamictal) cognitive things (over the summer) were getting pretty annoying. The memory thing I'm almost used to at this point even though I still hate it. But I was saying the wrong words; often times words that had a similar sound. One night at dinner I wanted to tell my children that I was evil and I said easy instead. There were times when I caught this immediately. There were times when I realized something wasn't quite right, but I didn't know what. Sometimes Jeff would point it out to me and I had no idea. A lot of the time if I did realize I used the wrong word I would have to go back through my sentence word by word to figure out what I was trying to say and what mistake I had made. It was REALLY annoying. (And I really think I was off of the Concerta then, which I hadn't thought of before, but it's an interesting connection to make now.) My dr called this "mild aphasia." (Which immediately made me think 'stroke victim' as my dad had some pretty major aphasia following his stroke and still some issues with it a year+ later.)

My current cognitive issues are somewhat more pronouced, and I am HOPING that as I adjust to the medicine that they will become less pronounced, even if they do not disappear entirely. I am using the wrong words sometimes, and sometimes I just have trouble thinking of the word I want. (This second part has been going on since quitting smoking to some extent.) More of a problem is switching letters or just generally misspelling words. Like you, it's not just typos. I've noticed it in my journal as well. It's also happening a LOT more in my typing where I just literally leave letters out of words, which is not quite the same as my normal typos. I have also noticed it in my schoolwork, so I am VERY glad that both teachers I have this semester grade on content and not spelling, punctuation, etc. Right now I am notcing it more in my writing than in my speaking, whereas over the summer I was noticing it more in my speaking than my writing.

I have no idea how helpful any of this can be to you because ALL of the reading I've done on this (other than noticing the first hand accounts on the website I linked) has been done from the starting point of quitting smoking. There is actually a pretty new drug company that is a spin-off from one of the tobacco companies (and my memory is failing me on ANY names) that is actually working on something to do with the way nicotine works on the receptors it works on and how in hopes of finding a miracle cure for a pretty extensive list of problems. They are not, at this time, a public company. Unless that has changed in the last 6 to 12 months. I hope they are wildly successful in their endeavors. :)

Rebecca


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