There are a large
number of medications available for the treatment of seizures. Some work on
most seizure types, some on only a few. There are also a variety of side effects
to be contended with depending on which drug or drugs are being administered.
They can include tremors, rashes, weight gain and drowsiness.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “At least half of all
people newly diagnosed with epilepsy will become seizure-free with their first
medication.” Your doctor will be able to help you make a decision about
which medications are right for your case.
There are two main
classifications of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs): narrow-spectrum AEDs and
AEDs work on specific types of seizures, while broad-spectrum AEDs work on
multiple types of seizures and other conditions.
(Tegretol): This drug tends to be more effective with partial and tonic
clonic seizures. Side effects
include fatigue, double vision, loss of coordination and possibly an effect on
the body’s calcium and vitamin D metabolism. It can also, in rare cases, cause
a decrease in infection fighting cells in the blood.
(Zarontin): This drug only works against absence seizures. Side effects
include drowsiness and fatigue, headaches, hiccups and nausea. It can also
cause rash and or reduction blood cells production from the bones.
(Neurontin): This drug can be effective against partial and secondary
generalized seizures. Side effects are usually few and mild with Gabapentin.
They include sleepiness and fatigue, dizziness, and lack of coordination.
(Luminal): One of the first drugs found to be effective in fighting
seizures and still occasioanlly used. It is effective against many types of
seizures. The drawbacks of phenobarbital include fatigue, rash, drowsiness,
blurred vision, dizziness, lack of coordination and rashes. Other potential
side effects include behavioral changes, loss of focus and concentration. Long-term
use can also increase the risk of osteoporosis and anemia.
(Dilantin): This is another drug that has been used to treat epilepsy for
some time. Unlike Phenobarbital, Phenytoin tends to be more effective with
partial and tonic clonic seizures than with other types. Side effects can
include dizziness, loss of coordination, slurring speech, tremors, loss of
concentration and jerking of the eyes. Some of the more pronounced side effects
include facial hair growth in women, increased growth of the gums and acne.
Hydrochloride (Gabitril): This drug
is effective against partial seizures. This drug can cause dizziness,
headaches, sleepiness and tremors.
(Klonopin): This drug is effective against a wide spectrum of seizure
types. The major problem with this drug is tolerance. The body can get used to
the medication and it stops working. It can also cause sleepiness, a loss of
coordination, swelling in the legs, memory problems and, in some cases, can
cause an increase in seizures.
(Felbatol): This drug fights a wide range of seizures. Serious side
effects—failure of the liver and/or bone marrow—have been associated with this
(Lamictal): A newer drug that is effective against most seizures. This drug
can cause a serious rash, headache, dizziness, clumsy movements, and double
(Mysoline): Another longtime anticonvulsant that is effective against a
wide range of seizures. This drug has side effects similar to those of Phenobarbital
and is less often used today.
(Topamax): Can be used in conjunction with other drugs, and is effective
against a range of seizure types. This drug can cause weight loss and cause
problems with memory and focus. In some cases, people using this drug develop
Sodium or Valproic Acid (Depakote): This drug is effective against most
seizure types. Stomach problems, weight gain, tremors nausea, and hair loss are
all side effects that can occur with this drug. It can also cause problems with
the pancreas and the liver.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
by Jennifer Monti, MD
This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.