Medications for Seizure Disorders

Seizure disorder known as epilepsy, describes a condition of recurrent unprovoked seizures. Seizures occur due to a group of nerves producing a sudden surge in electrical activity in the brain, which temporarily interferes with normal brain functions. Epilepsy affects approximately 2 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Medications known as anticoagulants can completely prevent seizures in approximately one-third of those with epilepsy, and greatly decrease the frequency of seizures in another one-third of patients, according to the Merck Manual.

Medications for Seizure Disorders 1


GABApentin works by increasing the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA, in the brain. It is prescribing to treat partial seizures also known as focal seizures, which affect only one part of the brain. It believes according to, that some seizures occur due to a low level of GABA. Therefore, increasing the level of GABA may effectively reduce the frequency of seizures. This causes side effects including fatigue, dizziness, loss of balance, stomach upset and shortness of breath.


Lamotrigine helps control partial seizures, tonic-clonic seizures-formerly known as grand mal seizures, and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome-a severe form of childhood epilepsy. Although the exact mechanism of action remains unknown, lamotrigine can inhibit the release of excitatory neurotransmitters, as described by the American Academy of Family Physicians. The side effects include dizziness, headache, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting and rash. Because the rash can become life threatening in 1 in 50 children treated with lamotrigine, this medication is not recommended for children under the age of 16.


Topiramate like lamotrigine, controls partial seizures, tonic-clonic seizures and the seizures caused by Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. It blocks sodium channels while also enhancing the activity of GABA, therefore reducing the incidence of seizures. It causes side effects including dizziness, impaired concentration, confusion, fatigue, speech difficulties and nausea.


Felbamate effectively treats partial seizures and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome; however, because of the serious risk of toxicity, this medication is usually prescribed for those patients whose seizures are difficult to control. The exact mechanism of action remains a mystery, but felbamate does affect GABA receptors. The pregnant women or mothers who breastfeed should not take this felbamate. General side effects include anorexia, vomiting, insomnia, headache and dizziness. Felbamate can cause serious side effects including Aplastic anemia, a life-threatening condition that affects the ability of the bone marrow to produce new blood cells, and liver failure.

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