Skip to content

Epilepsy Health Center

Font Size

Stopping Medicine for Epilepsy - Topic Overview

It is easy to understand people's reasons for wanting to stop medicine. Some reasons are side effects and drug toxicity, the cost and inconvenience of medicine, and, for women who want to have children, the higher risk of birth defects associated with some epilepsy medicines.

If you have not had a seizure in several years, you may want to discuss with your doctor the possibility of stopping treatment with medicine. You and your doctor will need to weigh the benefits of stopping treatment against the risk that your seizures may return.

Recommended Related to Epilepsy

Understanding Epilepsy -- Symptoms

Seizures are the basic indicator of epilepsy. They vary widely: Staring straight ahead, repetitive swallowing, and lapsing into complete immobility for a few seconds characterize absence (petit mal) seizures, which can recur many times in a day. Tonic/clonic (grand mal) seizures, which usually last several minutes, typically begin with a loss of consciousness and a fall, followed by rigidity, then jerking motions and incontinence of urine. After the seizure ends, there is usually a period...

Read the Understanding Epilepsy -- Symptoms article > >

You have a lower risk of having a seizure after stopping medicine if:

  • You have not had a seizure in 2 years or more.
  • You have only one type of seizure (except myoclonic seizures, which usually require lifelong treatment).
  • You developed epilepsy as a child or teenager.
  • You had only a few seizures before starting treatment.
  • Your seizures were easy to control with initial drug therapy using only one medicine.
  • Your electroencephalogram (EEG) is consistently normal.
  • Brain scans (MRI or CT scan) do not show any obvious abnormalities or structural brain disease.
  • You have normal intelligence.
  • You have a type of epilepsy that tends to go away (remit), such as benign focal childhood epilepsy.

In most cases, medicine is reduced slowly over 2 to 6 months. Talk with your doctor about whether you should drive—and if not, for how long—after you begin withdrawing the medicine. You are at highest risk for a seizure during this time. Most relapses tend to happen in the first year after you stop taking medicine, if they are going to happen at all.

Do not reduce your medicine dosage or stop taking your medicine without first consulting your doctor. Even if you have not had a seizure in several years while on medicine, stopping treatment may not be a good option for you.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: March 12, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    1
    Next Article:

    Stopping Medicine for Epilepsy Topics

    Today on WebMD

    human head and brain waves
    Causes, symptoms, and treatments.
    Grand mal seizure
    How is each one different?
     
    marijuana plant
    CBD, a plant chemical, may cut down seizures.
    prescription bottle
    Which medication is right for you?
     
    Seizures Driving
    Article
    Questions for Doctor Epilepsy
    Article
     
    Graces Magic Diet
    Article
    Pills spilling from bottle in front of clock
    Article
     
    first aid kit
    Article
    Caring Child Epilepsy
    Article
     
    Making Home Safe
    Article
    epilepsy monitoring
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections