Latuda is a medication doctors may prescribe for bipolar disorder. Can it help with bipolar disorder depression?
Bipolar disorder can involve mood shifts between mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed mood states. By definition, a depressive episode lasts for at least 2 weeks. Symptoms can be intense and include feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness.
Therapy, education, and other forms of support may help you manage bipolar disorder. That said, medication is often the first-line treatment for this condition.
Latuda, the brand name for lurasidone, is an atypical antipsychotic that doctors may prescribe to treat bipolar depression. You may want to consider discussing its risks and benefits with your doctor.
Latuda works by changing chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. It’s not a mood stabilizer, but an atypical antipsychotic.
Latuda is a prescription-only, atypical antipsychotic drug. It is not an antidepressant, but it works to alleviate the depressive phase of bipolar disorder.
Doctors may prescribe Latuda to:
- adults and children over 10 as a first-line treatment for bipolar depression
- children 13 or older with schizophrenia
- adults already taking mood stabilizers, such as lithium or valproate, to treat both the depression and manic episodes of bipolar disorder
How to take Latuda
Your doctor will advise you how to take Latuda, but typically, you’ll take the tablet once daily. They may recommend a short- or long-term treatment plan.
Latuda comes in various doses, including:
- 20 miligrams (mg)
- 40 mg
- 60 mg
- 80 mg
- 100 mg
- 120 mg
Most doctors will start you off on the lowest dose.
Other general considerations
Other considerations to keep in mind about Latuda:
- Only take Latuda with meals.
- Only take Latuda as prescribed.
- Always talk to your doctor before stopping the medication.
- If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about whether it’s safe to continue taking this medication.
Latuda can help with bipolar depression and other mental health conditions.
Latuda is also an effective treatment for schizophrenia in people over 13.
It can help with symptoms such as:
- unclear thinking
- low energy
Sometimes doctors prescribe Latuda for off-label uses not approved by the FDA, including:
- agitated depression
- bipolar 2 disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- major depressive disorder
- dementia-related psychosis
While doctors sometimes prescribe Latuda for dementia-related psychosis, the FDA warns that antipsychotics may cause death in older adults with dementia.
More research will help determine whether using Latuda for these conditions is safe and effective.
When you start taking Latuda, you may experience temporary side effects. These may last several weeks.
Potential minor side effects include:
- brain fog
- decreased coordination
- stiff muscles
- nasal congestion
- nausea or vomiting
More serious side effects include:
- lack of menstruation in females
- erectile dysfunction in males
- blood pressure, breathing, or heart rate changes
- changes in metabolism
- high blood sugar
- allergic reactions
- trouble maintaining body temperature
- uncontrollable muscle movements
- suicidal thoughts
Let your doctor know if you you experience these side effects.
People often worry about weight gain when taking this type of drug.
A 2017 study of the long-term effects of lurasidone treatment in patients with bipolar I depression found that taking the drug didn’t result in weight gain or negatively affect metabolism.
Most people experience minimal or no side effects while taking Latuda. But, it’s important to seek medical help immediately if you experience any of the following:
- dark urine
- frequent or infrequent urination
- changes in heartbeat
- feelings cold, overheated, or dehydrated
- a drop in blood pressure
It’s important to share any history of liver disease, heart disease, or high cholesterol with your doctor before starting Latuda.
Make sure your doctor knows what other drugs you’re taking. Taking Latuda with some medications may cause serious drug interactions.
In case of an accidental overdose or if you experience suicidal thoughts, call 911 for emergency assistance.
Although Latuda is FDA-approved for children over 10, the drug comes with a boxed warning explaining that children, teens, and young adults may be at risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors while taking this medication.
Older adults with dementia-related psychosis may also have a higher risk of suicidal thoughts when taking Latuda.
Latuda isn’t right for everyone. And your doctor may recommend other treatment options for bipolar depression.
Lithium, a mood stabilizer, is a common treatment for bipolar disorder.
Other mood stabilizers include anti-seizure drugs such as:
- valproic acid (Depakene)
- lamotrigine (Lamictal)
- divalproex sodium (Depakote)
Your doctor can talk with you about side effects common with anticonvulsant treatment.
Other atypical antipsychotics like Latuda include:
Additionally, in December 2021, the FDA approved CAPYLTA to treat bipolar I or II disorder in adults.
Family-focused therapy (FFT)
Family-focused therapy can help manage bipolar depression symptoms in both kids and adults.
Generally, FFT lasts about 9 months. It can help:
- educate family members about the mood disorder
- identify and work through problems related to mood episodes
- reduce depression and suicidal thoughts in family members with bipolar disorder
- improve communication about relapse and recovery plans
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)
IPSRT treatment can help people:
- understand their own pharmaceutical treatments
- better manage their sleep
- learn techniques to track and improve emotional self regulation
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
This form of talk therapy may help those with bipolar disorder:
- self-regulate during manic episodes
- understand and recover from manic and depressive episodes
- detach from symptoms
Having bipolar disorder doesn’t need to define you. And treatments are available. Medications like Lapuda and psychosocial interventions can help symptoms of bipolar disorder.
You may also want to talk with your doctor about alternative therapies you can try along with traditional treatment options.
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about potential side effects of medication therapies, like Latuda. Being informed about what to expect can help you adjust to treatment.
If you’re looking for more resources on how to cope with bipolar disorder, consider checking out these resources:
- The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance offers free online support groups and other resources for people with either condition.
- The database from the American Psychiatric Association can help you find a psychiatrist in your area.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides more information about bipolar disorder.