What are the Different Kinds of Anti-Seizure Medications?

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  • Written By: L. Whitaker
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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Dozens of different types of anti-seizure medications are in common use for treating epilepsy and non-epileptic seizures. The kind of medication that is prescribed for an individual depends on the type of seizures being treated, including generalized or grand mal seizures, absence or petit mal seizures, partial seizures, and mixed episodes. The individual's tolerance of specific medications and their side effects is also considered when prescribing anti-seizure medications.

Tegretol® or Carbatrol®, also known by its generic name carbamazepine, are commonly prescribed for seizures. It can be used for partial, generalized, or mixed seizure types. Some potential side effects of Tegretol® are nausea, rash, dizziness, changes in vision, and fatigue.

Depakote® (valproic acid) or Dilantin® (phenytoin) can be used to control absence, partial, or generalized seizures. Dilantin® is sometimes used intravenously in hospitals to gain rapid control over a seizure. Both of these anti-seizure medications can have serious long-term effects such as bone thinning, edema, irregular menstruation, speech changes, or increased growth of hair known as hirsutism.

Some anti-seizure medications are used in combination with other drugs to control certain types of seizures. These can include Neurontin® (gapapentin), Zonegran®, and Gabitril®. As with other drugs, these medications can have side effects such as behavior changes, fatigue, dizziness, rash, or kidney stones.


Other anti-seizure medications might be used for short-term applications, as in emergency room treatment to bring a seizure under control. These include certain tranquilizers, such as Klonopin®, Tranxane®, or Valium®. They are not used for long-term seizure management because individuals quickly build up a tolerance to these drugs.

Many drugs used to control seizures have side effects related to weight loss, weight gain, or decreased appetite. These include Lyrica®, Zaronthin® (ethsuximide), Felbatol®, and Topomax®. Other effects can range from vision problems, as with Trileptal®, to insomnia and dizziness, as with Lamictal®.

Epilepsy, also called seizure disorder, is a neurological condition affecting the body's nervous system. A seizure, or a surge of electrical brain activity, can take many forms. Generalized seizures, also known as grand mal seizures, affect both hemispheres of the brain and cause loss of consciousness. Partial seizures are limited to one part of the brain. Absence seizures, which are also known as petit mal seizures, cause a brief lapse of awareness and generally do not result in loss of consciousness.


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