Treatment for two mental health conditions includes Latuda, belonging to the category of atypical antipsychotic medication. It is also used for treating other mental health conditions and has off label uses as well. A common apprehension among patients and care givers about antipsychotic medications is the possibility of weight gain as an undesirable outcome. This is a genuine concern; following sub sections contain detailed information about the drug, including answers to the question – does Latuda cause weight gain? Information also includes side effects and drug interactions of the medication to help patients take suitable precautions.
Overview of Latuda
The FDA approved branded formulation of the generic name lurasidone, Latuda is used to treat depressive episodes associated with bipolar I disorder in adults. It is used as monotherapy or as an adjunct to lithium or valproate. The mental health condition bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of depression and mania or hypomania. During a depressive episode, patients may exhibit symptoms such as low mood, loss of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, feelings of worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts.
Latuda is also used treat schizophrenia in patients above the age of 13 years. This is a severe mental health condition wherein patients typically experience delusions, hallucinations, disordered thinking and speech, and social withdrawal. By restoring the balance of chemicals in the brain, Latuda helps reduce symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking. The drug is also used off-label for major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the efficacy for these conditions has not been fully established.
Different forms and dosage of Latuda
The medication is presently available in the form of tablets for oral administration, in different strengths – 20 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg and 120 mg. The ideal dosage of Latuda depends on several factors, including the condition being treated, the severity of the symptoms, and the patient’s age and health status. The recommended starting dose for adults with schizophrenia is 40 mg/day, with a maximum dose of 160 mg/day. For bipolar depression, the starting dose is 20 mg per day, with a maximum recommended dose of 120 mg/day.
Though Latuda can be taken with or without food, it is recommended to be taken with a meal containing at least 350 calories. This is mainly to help increase absorption and deliver the desired outcomes. The medication is not to be abruptly stopped without recommendations of the doctor, as this could result in withdrawal symptoms. Patients and care givers are to ensure that missed doses are skipped, and no attempt is to be made to take a double dose to make up for the missed dose.
Mechanism of action of Latuda
The outcomes of Lurasidone are linked to its activity as an antagonist and/or agonist at various neurotransmitter receptors in the brain, including dopamine D2, serotonin 5-HT1A, and 5-HT2A receptors. Latuda is assumed to act as a partial agonist at dopamine D2 receptors and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors, enhancing the activity of these neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain. Additionally, the drug also acts as an antagonist at serotonin 5-HT2A receptors, reducing activity of this neurotransmitter in certain areas of the brain. By modulating these receptors, the medication restores the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, that are disrupted in certain mental health conditions such as bipolar depression and schizophrenia.
Side effects of Latuda
All medications come with the possibility of side effects, and Latuda is no exception. Commonly experienced undesirable outcomes of the medication include the following.
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
- Weight gain
- Tremors or shaking
- Muscle stiffness
- Dry mouth
In addition to the above, certain other effects are experienced by patients, that are not common in occurrence. Undesirable outcomes of this nature, include the following.
- A condition known as tardive dyskinesia, which is essentially abnormal movements of the face, tongue, or mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty swallowing
- High blood sugar or diabetes
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
Patients experiencing symptoms that are severe, or persistent in nature are to seek medical attention at the earliest to ensure that the effects do not aggravate.
Drug interactions of Latuda
In addition to possible side effects, the drug may also interact with other medications, supplements, or substances. This could result in possible harmful side effects. Drugs that are known to interact with Latuda include the following categories of drugs.
- Strong CYP3A4 inhibitors: Drugs such as ketoconazole, clarithromycin, and ritonavir are known to inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme. This may increase the levels of Latuda in the bloodstream, potentially causing side effects.
- Strong CYP3A4 inducers: Drugs like rifampin, carbamazepine, and phenytoin are known to induce the CYP3A4 enzyme. This may decrease the levels of Latuda in the bloodstream, potentially reducing its effectiveness.
- Antipsychotic medications: Intake of certain antipsychotic medications along with Latuda may increase the risk of side effects, such as movement disorders.
- Medications that cause sedation: Medications that are known to cause sedation, including benzodiazepines or opioids, may increase the risk of drowsiness, dizziness, or other side effects.
- Supplements: Intake of the drug with supplements such as St. John’s Wort or 5-HTP may affect serotonin levels. This can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, a serious condition that can, in certain circumstances be life-threatening in nature.
Does Latuda cause weight gain?
The medication can cause weight gain in some people, although the extent of the weight gain varies between individuals. Weight gain is a common side effect of many antipsychotic medications. Weight gain is attributed to possible effects on the brain’s appetite and metabolism control centers. Studies have indicated that patients who take Latuda experience modest weight gain, typically around 2-3 pounds over the course of several months. However, all patients on Latuda are unlikely to experience weight gain, and the risk may be lower with Latuda compared to other antipsychotic medications.
How to prevent weight gain from Latuda?
Here are simple methods to help prevent or manage weight gain while taking the medication.
- Balanced diet: A healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins is recommended. Avoid foods high in saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and refined carbohydrates.
- Regular exercise: Regular physical activity can help burn calories, boost metabolism, and improve overall health. A minimum of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is recommended.
- Monitor weight: Any significant changes in weight are to be reported to the specialist, as noticing weight gain early can help prevent it from getting worse.
- Weight-management program: Participating in a weight-management program that includes counseling, support, and education on healthy lifestyle habits is a good choice.
- Alternative medications: Use of other medications with a lower risk of weight gain can also help manage weight.