What is Tegretol?

Tegretol is a medication known as an anticonvulsant that is used to treat the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is also used to treat seizures and nerve pain.


When did the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve the medication?

Tegretol was first approved by the FDA in 1968.


Is there a generic version of Tegretol?

Yes, the generic version is known as carbamazepine and is sold in the U.S.


Are there any major differences between Tegretol and other medications used to treat bipolar disorder?

Tegretol belongs to the class of medications known as anticonvulsants. Anticonvulsants are sometimes taken to treat or prevent the manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Tegretol may be prescribed alone or in combination with other medications to treat symptoms.


What warning information do I need to know about Tegretol?

Tegretol may cause a life-threatening allergic reaction known as Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis. This can cause damage to your internal organs or skin. The risk factor is genetic, with people of Asian ancestry being at higher risk. Talk to your doctor about getting genetic testing to evaluate the risk of taking Tegretol. Tegretol can also decrease the number of blood cells in the body, so talk to your doctor if you already have a low number or are taking other medications that increase this risk.

Article continues below

Concerned about Bipolar Disorder?

Take our 2-minute Bipolar quiz to see if you or a loved one may benefit from further diagnosis and treatment.

Take Bipolar Quiz

Can children take Tegretol?

Children over the age of 6 can be prescribed Tegretol for seizures. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits and potential side effects to monitor.


Are there potential interaction issues for people taking Tegretol and any other drugs?

There are hundreds of drugs which are known to interact with Tegretol in major, moderate, or mild ways, so let your doctor know what other medications you are taking before you begin taking the medication. Some of these might include medication for mental illness such as depression or anxiety, antifungals, seizure medications, HIV protease inhibitors, malaria medications, sleeping medications, and any vitamins or over the counter prescriptions you might be taking. Tegretol may also decrease the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives.


Are there any other medical conditions that would make someone ineligible for Tegretol therapy?

Talk to your doctor about other medical conditions before you take Tegretol, such as glaucoma, heart disease, kidney disease, thyroid or liver disease, or a history of psychosis. Also tell your doctor if you have a history of low blood cell count.


What is the typical dose that would be prescribed to someone taking Tegretol?

Dosage will vary depending on the age of the patient and the condition being treated.


What do I do if I miss a dose?

Take the dose of Tegretol when you remember, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. You should never take extra doses of the medication to make up for missed doses.


What side effects can Tegretol cause?

Common side effects can include:
• nausea
• dry mouth
• constipation
• dizziness
• drowsiness
• mild rash

It also is recommended that you wait to drive or operate machinery until you know how the medication affects you and to avoid alcohol and illegal drugs while on the medication, as they can worsen adverse effects. Report major side effects to your doctor immediately, which can include swelling, shortness of breath, skin reaction, and fever. Report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or online.


What are the potential psychological side effects of taking Tegretol?

Anticonvulsant medications sometimes cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors in a small percentage of people who take the medication. Seek medical help if you experience these thoughts or other changes in your behavior or mood.


What are the potential long-term effects of taking Tegretol?

Tegretol can cause lower blood counts and lower sodium levels. Your doctor may want to monitor these periodically while you’re taking the medication.


Is it safe for a woman who is pregnant, about to become pregnant, or nursing to take Tegretol?

Tegretol can cause birth defects and fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. The drug can be transferred via breast milk and potentially harm a baby. Therefore, talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are nursing before you take Tegretol.


Can symptoms occur if Tegretol is discontinued?

It’s important not to discontinue use of the drug before talking with your doctor. Withdrawal symptoms of Tegretol can include sleep problems, increased anxiety, numbness in limbs, joint pain, shaking, and the return of manic or depressive symptoms.


What should I do if I overdose on Tegretol?

An overdose of Tegretol could be fatal, so seek immediate help or call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 if you overdose. Overdose symptoms can include abnormal or uncontrollable movements, restlessness, seizures, loss of balance, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, slower or irregular breathing, rapid heartbeat, nausea, vomiting, trouble urinating, and unconsciousness.


Is Tegretol habit-forming?

Tegretol has no habit-forming potential, but it is not recommended that you discontinue use of the drug before talking with your doctor, as withdrawal symptoms can occur.


How much does Tegretol cost?

According to goodrx.com, 60 tables of 200 mg generic carbamazepine cost approximately $65. 60 tablets of 200 mg Tegretol cost approximately $150.


Are there any disadvantages to Tegretol?

The biggest disadvantages of Tegretol are potential side effects which include severe allergic reaction and decreased blood cell count. Pregnant women are also typically advised not to take the medication due to the risk of birth defects.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other healthcare providers. This article mentions drugs that were FDA-approved and available at the time of publication and may not include all possible drug interactions or all FDA warnings or alerts. The author of this page explicitly does not endorse this drug or any specific treatment method. If you have health questions or concerns about interactions, please check with your physician or go to the FDA site for a comprehensive list of warnings.

Article Sources
Last Updated: Nov 25, 2018