Latuda Side Effects – What You Need to Know About Bipolar Medication Options

About the Author Dr. Steve Levine is a board-certified psychiatrist internationally recognized for his contributions to advancements in mental health care. Though he is a psychiatrist who places great emphasis on the importance of psychotherapy, medication is often a necessary component of treatment, and he was dissatisfied with the relatively ineffective available options with burdensome side effects. Dr. Levine pioneered a protocol for the clinical use of ketamine infusions, has directly supervised many thousands of infusions and has helped establish similar programs across the country and around the world.

How Fast Does Latuda Work? Side Effects For Bipolar Medication, Depression & Latuda Alternatives

Are there medications available to treat bipolar disorder that will not cause serious side effects?

Medication options are fairly limited for bipolar depression and recently a new drug, Latuda (Lurasidone), has been FDA-approved to treat bipolar depression. In addition to Latuda, Seroquel and the combination pill of Zyprexa/Prozac are also FDA approved to treat bipolar depression.  Latuda, an atypical antipsychotic, was originally designed to treat adults with schizophrenia and then it was looked at specifically as a bipolar depression treatment. Latuda is the first medication approved for bipolar depression that can be taken either: (1) on its own (as monotherapy) or with a mood-stabilizing medication like Lithium or Valproate (as adjunctive therapy).

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition in which patients suffer from both episodes of mania and depression. The depressive component of bipolar disorder is also known as bipolar depression. At Actify Neurotherapies, under Dr. Steven Levine’s proven and tested ketamine protocols, patients have seen success rates >70% in treating all forms of depression (major depression, bipolar depression, postpartum depression). Patients who have failed 2 or more trials of oral medications or cannot tolerate the side effects of oral medications are excellent candidates for Ketamine infusion therapy.

Bipolar disorder is both a recurrent and chronic condition with a lifetime prevalence of around 1% with an average age of onset around 25. Men and women are equally affected and bipolar disorder currently affects 5.7 million American adults. There are several medication classes available to help treat bipolar disorder depending on whether it is a depressive, mixed or manic episode. Medication treatment options for bipolar disorder include the standard mood stabilizers (such as Lithium, Depakote, and Lamictal) +/- antipsychotics (such as Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Seroquel) and antidepressants. In this article, we focus on the treatment of bipolar depression, more specifically Latuda vs. Ketamine for bipolar depression.

Latuda Side Effects, Risks, and Dosing 

It is thought that Latuda works on several receptors in the brain including dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine and histamine. The dosing range is 40 to 120 mg taken once daily. In addition, Latuda should be taken with at least 350 calories to help aid its absorption. Like most oral antipsychotic medications, Latuda does not work instantly and can often take weeks to months before the provider and patient can decide if the treatment is working. The most common side effects of Latuda include nausea, sleepiness or drowsiness, restlessness or feeling like you need to move around (akathisia), and difficulty moving, slow movements, muscle stiffness, or tremor. Other potential side effects of Latuda include an increase in blood sugars with increased risk of diabetes, increased risk of high cholesterol, weight gain, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, tardive dyskinesia, stroke, and death. Latuda is not approved for treating elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis because it has been proven to increase suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and mortality in these patients. Patients should have their glucose levels and lipids checked when starting Latuda and again at 3 months thereafter with subsequent intervals after that point determined by their doctor.

Medication Alternatives without Similar Latuda Side Effects

Ketamine is a medication currently being used to treat bipolar depressive episodes with great success and little to no side effects or drug interations.  A recent meta-analysis titled Efficacy of Ketamine in Bipolar Depression¹ concluded that “Ketamine causes rapid and robust antidepressant response in patients with bipolar depression”. At Actify Neurotherapies, around 70% of our patients with bipolar depression have found significant improvement in their symptoms. Ketamine is given as an outpatient, intravenous infusion over 40 minutes with the direct supervision of a nurse and physician. When Ketamine infusions work in relieving symptoms of bipolar depression, patients see signs of improvement in hours to days instead of weeks to months, like with Latuda. In addition, Ketamine infusions have transient, minor side effects during the infusion but once the infusion is completed you won’t find the persistent side effects of Latuda described above.

Latuda Side Effects – You Have Options

For some patients who are currently taking Latuda to combat bipolar depression but not getting the relief they hoped for, Ketamine infusions are a great option as an add-on therapy or a potential replacement treatment to prevent depressive episodes. Perhaps you are finding some success with Latuda, but still have the ‘blahs’ of depression where you aren’t finding joy in as many places as you used to. If that’s the case, you should note a second major conclusion from the meta-analysis cited above: they also found that Ketamine reduced levels of anhedonia (the ‘blahs’ of depression) independent of depressive symptoms. This means that even if you thought Latuda was getting your depression to a reasonable place, there could be hope for even more symptom relief with ketamine.


1. Parsaik AK, Singh B, Khosh-Chashm D, Mascarenhas SS. Efficacy of ketamine in bipolar depression: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Psychiatr Pract. 2015;21(6):427- 435. doi:10.1097/PRA.0000000000000106.