Latuda (Lurasidone) is a new atypical antipsychotic drug that is approved for the treatment of depressive episodes in bipolar disorder (type 1) as well as schizophrenia. It is considered a relatively new drug as it was just approved in 2013 to treat depressive episodes for people with bipolar I disorder. This drug is somewhat unique because it is among very few antipsychotics that are able to treat the depressive side of bipolar disorder.
Although this drug may work well for treating the depression in bipolar I patients, there is not yet substantial evidence proving that it also helps address manic episodes. For this reason, it is sometimes prescribed with lithium as it is known to help control mania. It also has been thought to work well at addressing both the negative symptoms as well as the cognitive symptoms (i.e. memory deficits) among individuals with schizophrenia.
It is thought to help learning and memory as a result of the effect it has on various serotonin receptors. Despite the fact that there is a lot of hype surrounding this new antipsychotic drug, it hasn’t been around long enough for an accurate evaluation; long-term effects are unknown. Most of the studies suggest that Latuda is well-tolerated with minimal side effects compared to other anitpsychotics.
However, just because it is a newer, trendy drug that is touted as having minimal side effects does not mean it is perfect. Many people will still have side effects with this drug and/or find it ineffective at managing their symptoms. A majority of people will try it for awhile, and end up having to face withdrawal symptoms.
Factors that influence Latuda (Lurasidone) withdrawal
As with any antipsychotic drug, there are going to be various factors that play a role in determining withdrawal symptoms. These key factors include: the time span over which you took the drug, your dosage, how quickly you withdrew, as well as other individual factors such as sensitivity to withdrawal.
1. Time Span
How long did you take Latuda? In general, the longer you take an antipsychotic drug, the more difficulty you are likely to have facing withdrawal. When you take an antipsychotic for a long period of time, your body and brain become accustomed to receiving the drug for everyday functioning.
If you take away the substance that you have been supplying your nervous system for an extended period, it is going to have difficulty functioning properly – leading to withdrawal symptoms. Individuals who took Latuda for only a short period of time are likely going to have a much easier time facing withdrawal and readjusting to normal functioning.
2. Dosage (20 mg to 160 mg)
How much Latuda were you taking on a daily basis? Individuals with schizophrenia tend to start at a dose of around 40 mg and then titrate up to a dose that provides symptom relief if the starting dose is inadequate. It can be taken from the starting dose of 40 mg all the way up to a maximum daily amount of 160 mg.
Individuals with bipolar depression typically take anywhere from 20 mg to 120 mg (the daily maximum). It should be noted that titrating upwards from the starting dosage is typically not necessary and doesn’t usually yield any additional benefit. With that said, when a person is taking a higher dose than average, the body can become tolerant to the extra strength of the drug. Withdrawal is thought to be longer-lasting and more severe if you took a higher dose.
3. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering
Despite the fact that many people claim that this drug has minimal discontinuation symptoms doesn’t mean that you should quit cold turkey. It is still relatively new and the jury is still out on how quickly you can come off of this drug. I would recommend conducting a gradual taper just like other antipsychotics.
A tapering protocol that you can use is cutting down by 10 mg every 2 weeks. So if you were on 40 mg, you could drop down to 30 mg after 2 weeks. By dropping at a rate of 10 mg every couple weeks, you are giving your nervous system a chance to gradually adjust to functioning with less of the drug. Tapering is thought to yield significantly less side effects than quitting cold turkey.
4. Individual Factors
It is also important to consider individual factors when coming off an antipsychotic. Some people may not experience many withdrawal symptoms, while others may be plagued with debilitating withdrawal effects for weeks (or months) following their last dose. Certain individuals are naturally more sensitive to withdrawal from drugs than others.
Various factors to consider include: amount of social support, whether you are taking other drugs, whether you are transitioning to another antipsychotic, and your daily habits. People who eat healthy, exercise, and get plenty of sleep may have an easier time recovering from withdrawal symptoms. Additionally people who are taking other drugs or transitioning to another anitpsychotic may not notice nearly as much of a withdrawal.
Latuda Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities
Below is a list of possible withdrawal symptoms that you may experience when discontinuing Latuda. Understand that you may not experience every symptom listed and that severity of the symptoms can differ based on the individual.
- Anger: Various individuals have reported that they felt pretty grumpy during withdrawal from Latuda. This is an antipsychotic that tends to have somewhat of an antidepressant effect and works on serotonin. When coming off of it, your neurotransmitter levels may be lower than average, making individuals more prone to anger.
- Anxiety: Some people experience pretty severe anxiety when they initially quit this drug. Some withdrawal accounts have stated that anxiety was their worst withdrawal symptom and persisted for a long period (in one case months) after the last dose.
- Body aches: As with most antipsychotics, you may notice that your muscles feel especially achy and/or you may feel weakness as you come off of this drug. Experiencing muscle aches and feeling weak is likely due to your nervous system adjusting to not having the drug for functioning.
- Concentration problems: Some people notice foggy thinking when they discontinue this medication. The concentration difficulties may be due to the fact that people are experiencing an array of physical side effects while coming off of the drug – which can be distracting. Additionally the cognitive benefits that a person experiences while taking the drug will subside during withdrawal.
- Confusion: This drug is thought to improve cognition in some people who take it. When you come off of it, the improved cognition will likely subside. The combination of concentration and memory problems during withdrawal can contribute to a general state of confusion.
- Depersonalization: You may feel unlike your natural self during the withdrawal process. You may feel like a zombie and/or as if your normal self has left your body. This is largely due to changes in neurotransmitters and brain activity as a result of withdrawal. Over time, you should return to feeling like your normal self again.
- Depression: It is very common to feel depressed during withdrawal from Latuda. In part this may be due to the fact that your brain is no longer receiving the same degree of dopamine and serotonin regulation that the drug provided. When you stop taking it, you may feel even more depressed than before you started taking it. It will likely take some time for your brain functioning to adjust.
- Dizziness: One of the most common withdrawal effects from any psychiatric medication is that of dizziness. Do not be surprised if you discontinue this drug and notice that you feel extremely dizzy during the first few weeks following your last dose.
- Fatigue: Some people experience pretty significant fatigue when they stop taking this drug. The fatigue is usually a result of your brain attempting to reestablish normal, sober functioning. The withdrawal can be mentally draining and leave people feeling lethargy.
- Hallucinations: During withdrawal, it is possible to experience symptoms of psychosis. One of the hallmark symptoms of psychosis is that of hallucinations. Although this it is not common to hallucinate during withdrawal, it is possible as your dopamine activity readjusts.
- Headache: Perhaps one of the worst symptoms of Latuda withdrawal is that of headaches. Some individuals have reported severe pressure headaches and/or migraines for weeks following their last dose. Do your best to relax, stay hydrated, and consider over-the-counter headache relief if they are substantial.
- Insomnia: Another withdrawal symptom that people experience is insomnia or the inability to fall asleep at night. This may be severe for the first few weeks of withdrawal, but eventually your sleep cycle should correct itself and this will subside.
- Memory problems: This drug is thought to help improve cognition and deficits that people experience as a result of schizophrenia. When you come off of it, you may notice that your memory isn’t as good as it was while you took the drug. In some cases your memory may be worse than before you took your first dose of the drug. Unless you had major memory deficits before you took the drug, you should experience full recovery in memory functioning.
- Mood swings: This is a drug that affects dopamine, serotonin, and adrenergic receptors in the brain. During withdrawal a person may experience abnormal functioning from the receptors affected by the drug – which could be the culprit for mood swings. One minute you may feel hopeful for the future, the next minute completely hopeless and depressed. Just know that mood swings should eventually stabilize (assuming you are non-bipolar).
- Nausea: Another fairly common symptom that people experience is that of nausea. If this becomes severe enough it may lead to vomiting. This can be reduced by conducting a gradual taper off of the drug. Quitting cold turkey is thought to lead to more significant nausea.
- Psychosis: Researchers have found that withdrawal from antipsychotics can cause psychosis. In other words, even if you don’t have schizophrenia, but were on an antipsychotic medication like Latuda, you could end up experiencing temporary psychosis. Additionally people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia may be experiencing a relapse in symptoms.
- Racing thoughts: Some people have reported experiencing changes in thought patterns upon withdrawal. You may notice that you experience more racing thoughts (not to be confused with mania) and/or unpleasant, intrusive thoughts.
- Restlessness: You may feel a general sense of restlessness or inability to sit still. Restlessness is often a symptom that occurs when serotonin and dopamine levels are altered. As time passes, you should eventually feel more naturally calm.
- Sleep changes: Your sleep pattern may become temporarily altered during withdrawal. Many people report that while they are on Latuda they notice a trend of tiredness and others have difficulty getting restful sleep. When you come off of the drug, your natural sleep cycle may require some time to reset itself.
- Suicidal thinking: Since this medication tends to provide somewhat of an antidepressant effect, coming off of it may lead a person to feel depressed and suicidal. If you feel suicidal, understand that it may be in part due to withdrawal. Seek help from a therapist if you are unable to cope with this feeling.
- Sweating: You may experience heavy sweats throughout the day and/or wake up with night sweats. Sweating is a common symptom of withdrawal and in part is due to your nervous system adjusting itself and can serve as a natural detoxification response.
- Tremors: Antipsychotic withdrawal can lead a person to shake uncontrollably or have “tremors.” You may notice that you shake uncontrollably in the hand region and/or throughout the body.
- Vision changes: You may notice changes in your vision when you come off this drug. The changes are unlikely to be permanent, but you may experience temporary blurs or alterations. These will eventually return to normal with enough time off of the drug.
- Weight loss: In general, Latuda is considered an antipsychotic that doesn’t tend to lead to drastic weight gain. Some people experience significant increases in appetite (and craving for carbohydrates) when they are on Latuda. When they stop taking it, their appetite returns to normal and they lose the weight that they gained. Don’t expect immediate weight loss, but just know that you will eventually lose the weight that you packed on.
Latuda Withdrawal Duration: How long does it last?
There is no exact timeline that can be followed when withdrawing from Latuda. The severity of symptoms that you experience as well as the duration for which they persist will be based entirely on individual circumstances. The drug itself has a half life of 18 hours, meaning it will be entirely cleared from your body within an estimated 126 hours (less than 6 days). However, just because the drug is cleared from the body within a couple of days doesn’t mean that withdrawal is immediately over.
Most withdrawal symptoms start after the drug has been fully cleared from the body. Common reported symptoms from antipsychotic withdrawal include: headaches, dizziness, low energy, and changes in mood. Some people may not notice many withdrawal symptoms from Latuda, while others may have difficult, protracted withdrawals that last for weeks, or in more extreme cases, months.
Although withdrawal symptoms may last for an extended period of time, do your best to engage in healthy habits. Getting proper rest, eating healthy, socializing, and getting light exercise can go a long way towards repairing the nervous system. If you have gone through withdrawal from Latuda, feel free to share your experience in the comments section below, you may really help another person going through the same journey.
Unfortunately this is a relatively brand new drug and there isn’t much literature surrounding its discontinuation and withdrawal symptoms, so any additional insight that can be provided from those who have been on this drug is appreciated.