Epilepsy Drugs to Treat Seizures
Depakene, Depakote (valproate, valproic acid)
- Used to treat partial, absence, and generalized tonic-clonic seizures
- Common side effects include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tremor, hair loss, weight gain, depression in adults, irritability in children, reduced attention, a decrease in thinking speed. Over the long term, the drug can cause bone thinning, swelling of the ankles, irregular menstrual periods. More rare and dangerous effects include hearing loss, liver damage, decreased platelets (clotting cells), and pancreas problems.
- Used with other drugs to treat partial seizures
- Adverse effects include drowsiness, dizziness, unsteady gait, kidney stones, abdominal discomfort, headache, and rash.
Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam) and similar tranquilizers such as Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Effective in short-term treatment of all seizures; used often in the emergency room to stop a seizure.
- Tolerance develops in most within a few weeks, so the same dose has less effect over time.
- Valium can also be given as rectal suppository.
- Side effects include tiredness, unsteady walking, nausea, depression, and loss of appetite. In children, they can cause drooling and hyperactivity.
- The drug is approved to treat partial onset seizures in those aged 12 and older.
- The label carries a warning of potential serious events including irritability, aggression, anger, anxiety, paranoia, euphoric mood, agitation, and changes in mental status.
Oxtellar XR (oxcarbazepine)
- This drug is approved to treat partial seizures in those aged 6 and older. Oxtellar XR is a once-daily medicine used with other medications to control seizures.
- Common side effects include dizziness, sleepiness, headache, vomiting, double vision, and balance problems.
Epilepsy Drug Guidelines
It may take several months before the best drug and dosage are determined for you. During this adjustment period, you will be carefully monitored through frequent blood tests to measure your response to the medication.
It is very important to keep your follow-up appointments with your doctor and the lab to minimize your risk for serious side effects and prevent complications.
When seizures continue despite treatment for epilepsy, it may be because the episodes thought to be seizures are non-epileptic. In such cases, you should get a second opinion from a specialist and have EEG-video monitoring so the diagnosis can be re-evaluated.
In specialized centers, about 15% to 20% of patients referred for persistent seizures that defy treatment ultimately prove to have non-epileptic conditions.