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Seizure Medicines for Tension Headaches - Topic Overview

Seizure medicines are drugs that are used to treat seizures. Seizure medicines are also used to prevent migraine headaches. And they may be used to help prevent tension headaches in some people. There is not good evidence for their use in preventing tension headaches, but your doctor may think that one of these medicines will help you if you have chronic tension headaches:

  • Gabapentin (for example, Neurontin)
  • Topiramate (for example, Topamax)
  • Valproate (for example, Depakene)

Side effects of topiramate can include:

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  • Fatigue.
  • A prickling or tingling sensation in the hands and feet.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Inability to concentrate or speak clearly.

Gabapentin is a well-tolerated drug that usually causes only mild side effects. These often go away within 1 to 2 weeks and include:

  • Dizziness.
  • Drowsiness and fatigue.
  • Headache.
  • Weight gain.
  • Foot swelling.

Side effects of valproate can include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Nausea.
  • Tremor or shakiness.
  • Hair loss.
  • Weight gain.
  • Headache pain that is different than pain from a migraine headache.

Do not use valproate if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.

Women who use topiramate during pregnancy have a slightly higher chance of having a baby with birth defects. If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you and your doctor must weigh the risks of using this medicine against the risks of not treating your condition.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on seizure medicines and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take seizure medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take seizure medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.

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.
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