Epilepsy Talk

Anti-Epilepsy Medication Side-Effects | June 25, 2019

They’re necessary but not necessarily nice. And every med has its own side-effects. Just as different people experience different difficulties.

But here‘s the low-down on the possible side-effects.

I hope you don’t have to suffer any of them. (Or as few as possible.)

Ativan (lorazepam) — drowsiness, sleepiness, fatigue, poor coordination, unsteadiness, behavior changes.

Banzel (rufinamide) — loss of appetite, vomiting, dizziness, headache, fatigue, irritability, attention difficulty, double vision, itchiness, stomach pain. People who have a heart rhythm irregularity, should not take Banzel.

Carbatrol (extended release carbamazepine) — dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, blurred or double vision, skin rashes, abnormal blood counts (rare).

Depakote (depakene, valproate, valproic acid) — dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tremor, hair loss, weight gain, depression in adults, irritability in children, reduced attention, and 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.

Diamox (acetazolamide) — appetite loss, frequent urination, drowsiness, confusion, extremity numbness, kidney stones.

Diastat acudial (diazepam rectal gel) — drowsiness, sleepiness, fatigue, dizziness, headache, pain, diarrhea, rash, nervousness, slowed speech, poor
coordination, unsteadiness, behavior changes.

Dilantin (phenytoin) — moderate cognitive problems, slurred speech, confusion, hallucinations, mood or behavior changes, hyperactivity (mentally or physically), unsteadiness, dizziness, fatigue, gum overgrowth, potential body/face hair growth, skin problems, bone problems (osteoporosis), suicide thoughts or attempts. Plus, Dilantin can cause a rare and dangerous rash called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome.

Felbatol (felbamate) — anorexia, vomiting, insomnia, nausea, headache, dizziness, vision problems, poor coordination, tremor, mood changes, anxiety, depression, liver and blood toxicity.(If you are taking it, have blood cell counts and liver tests regularly.

Frisium (clobazam) — weakness, drowsiness, dizziness, poor coordination, drooling, restlessness, aggressiveness, anxiety, increased heart rate, tremor, addictive.

Gabitril (tiagabine) — nausea, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, tremor, nervousness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, anxiety, and confusion.

Hp Acthar Gel (acth [adrenocorticotropic hormone]) — insomnia, increased appetite, weight gain, irritability, fluid retention. Sleepiness, fatigue, poor coordination, loss of strength, dizziness.

Keppra (levetiracetam) Well we all know about “Keppra Rage” but here, too, is a list of common Keppra side effects — dizziness; drowsiness; irritability; sore throat; tiredness; weakness. Not to mention abnormal thoughts, decreased coordination, extreme dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness, or weakness; hallucinations, memory loss, muscle or neck pain; new or worsening mental, mood, or behavior changes(eg, aggression, agitation, anger, anxiety, apathy, depression, hostility, irritability, panic attacks, restlessness); new or worsening seizures; suicidal thoughts or attempts.

Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (Diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam) — drowsiness, loss of appetite, poor coordination, unsteadiness, mood and behavior changes, addiction.

Lamictal (lamotrigine) — dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headache, blurred vision, clumsiness. Also, in rare cases, Lamictal can cause Stevens-Johnson Syndrome which poses a dangerous risk if not treated immediately.

Lyrica (pregabalin) — weight gain, swelling of hands and feet, nausea, sleepiness, blurred or double vision, dry mouth, difficulty concentrating, confusion, dizziness, weakness, tremor.

Mysoline (primidone) — clumsiness, unsteadiness, vertigo, dizziness, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, irregular eye movements, blurred or double vision, hyperirritability, insomnia, depression, hyperactivity (children).

Neurontin (gabapentin) — weight gain, ankle swelling, fatigue, dizziness, clumsiness, twitching.

Onfi (clobazam) – mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, muscle spasms, irritably, agitation, aggressiveness, restlessness, hyperactivity, depression.

Phenobarbital (luminal)drowsiness, dizziness, upset stomach, anemia, rash, fever, vitamin folic acid deficiency, low calcium levels, bone loss, irritability, depression, hyperactivity (children), difficulty concentrating, memory problems, slurred speech, decreased sexual interest, mildly addictive.

Phenytek (extended phenytoin sodium) — constipation, dizziness, headache, nausea, trouble sleeping, vomiting, high blood sugar, clumsiness, confusion, jerking movements of the eyes, decreased coordination, shaking hands, slowed thinking, movement, memory problems, slurred speech, poor concentration, new or worsening mental or mood changes, seizures.

Rufinamide (inovelon) — headache, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, sleepiness, double vision, balance problems.

Sabril (vigabatrin) — headache dizziness, tremor, blurry vision, vision loss, abnormal MRIs, anemia, sleepiness, numbness of extremities, weight gain, swelling, fluid retention,hyperactivity, memory impairment, constipation, diarrhea, urinary tract infection, upper respiratory tract infection,poor coordination, joint pain. Newly approved by the FDA.

Tegretol (carbamazepine, carbatrol) Tegretol XR (extended release carbamazepine) — dizziness, sleepiness, unsteadiness, drowsiness, blurred or double vision, headache, nausea, skin rashes, abnormal blood counts, bone and liver problems.(You must be tested for toxicity regularly.)

Topamax (topiramate) — weight loss, nausea, sleepiness, dizziness, tingling skin, clumsiness, unsteadiness, confusion, nervousness, difficulty thinking or talking, speech, memory and vision problems, feeling of pins and needles in fingertips and toes, depression, memory difficulty, psychiatric disorders.

Tranxene (clorazepate) — drowsiness, sleepiness, fatigue, poor coordination, unsteadiness, behavior change.

Trileptal (oxcarbazepine) — difficulty concentrating, sleepiness, fatigue, dizziness, double vision, nausea, headache, unsteadiness, loss of coordination, rash, low blood sodium.

Vimpat (lacosamide) — dizziness, unsteadiness, shakiness, headache, nausea, vomiting, double vision, blurred vision, drowsiness, diarrhea, falling, unintentional rapid eye movement, tremor, memory mood problems.  (In rare cases, Vimpat may affect internal organs, blood counts or heart rhythm.)

Zarontin (ethosuximide) — appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, drowsiness, headache, dizziness, fatigue, double vision,memory, mood problems.

Zonegran (zonisamide) — sleepiness, dizziness, loss of appetite, headache, nausea, irritability, difficulty concentrating, poor coordination, tremor, speech problems, unsteadiness, fever, itching, vision problems, kidney stones, abdominal discomfort. (Should not be used in individuals allergic to sulfa drugs).

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  1. Very enlightening…thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by paulw12e — June 25, 2019 @ 10:49 AM

  2. The potential side effects should be taken seriously. I first started experiencing hyperacusis when my Vimpat dose was increased. I asked to switch meds and was then prescribed Depakote with again increasing and unbearable hyperacusis. My neurologist doubted my symptoms until confirmed by a neurotologist. I quit AED’s completely at that point. Seizures and some limitations are easier to deal with than the continuous noise sensitivity and excruciating pain. Fortunately hyperacusis has subsided from constant to only when I am tired; I am also seizure free 1+ yr using CW CBD and natural supplements.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Shellie Stephens — June 25, 2019 @ 11:16 AM

    • Shelli, good for you, for taking your health into your own hands!

      And congratulations on being 1+ years seizure free.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 25, 2019 @ 11:40 AM

    • Unfortunately, for the politicians & corporate big pharma who finances the elections of the politicians, we’re not patients looking for remedy.
      We are customers who will keep buying their products.
      And sadly, the more our medical difficulty gets complicated with their products, the more we buy their products complicated by their “medicine”, because curing our medical hardships does NOT serve their business interests & financial gains.
      Somehow, breaking away from the endless cycle somewhere, seems the only alternative to the fatal rodeos.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by BahreNegash Eritrea — June 25, 2019 @ 6:31 PM

      • Speaking of rodeos, don’t you sometimes feel like a “cash cow”? Just follow the $$$$$.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 25, 2019 @ 6:34 PM

  3. So far being back on the VIMPAT 100mg tablet seems to be safe with me now @ 150 mgs going up to 200mgs in a week. What will happen then, Who knows, BUT taking the 50mg tablet was like living in a different world as you posted what can happen with VIMPAT. the 50mgs tablet has ALUMINUM in the where the 100mgs tablet does not have it. When I started the 50mgs tablets the 1st time being on the drug, I noticed most of the side affects you have listed especially slurred speech & slow at talking like I was drunk. getting off the 50mgs pills & going on the 100mgs pills made the difference. Like I always say.. the brain never lies”. So compare all AED’s & what is in them to the 50mgs tablet of VIMPAT as i am sure some are worse than that like KEPPRA as they have generic drugs which are always worse than a BRAND NAME that VIMPAT has only & there is no generic for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by C D — June 25, 2019 @ 1:48 PM

    • As you said C D, I hasten to think of what generic drugs have in them, along with that 20% of “filler”.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 25, 2019 @ 1:57 PM

  4. I know of this wonderful new Rx for seizures but it does have some side effects:

    Increased energy
    Loss of unwanted weight
    Lowered blood pressure
    Blood sugar stabilization (no “hangry” episodes)
    Better sleep
    Skin tone and hair strength improvements

    It’s called the Ketogenic Diet (or its cousin the Carnivore Diet) and it is more effective than most meds in many people. Seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by paleobird — June 25, 2019 @ 2:20 PM

  5. You GO Girl! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 25, 2019 @ 2:21 PM

  6. Hi Phylis,
    My comment was especially for anyone who is willing to put up with fatigue, tremors, dizziness, liver poisoning, suicidal thoughts, nausea and headaches but yet thinks that giving up their bread and cookies is “just TOO hard”.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by paleobird — June 25, 2019 @ 2:28 PM

  7. I am sorry but none of these side effects are acceptable. They can do their best to change the chemical composition to eliminate these side effects. The side effects generate more money prescribing other drugs to counter the side effects and not just with epilepsy meds .

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Tom — June 25, 2019 @ 2:54 PM

    • Good point, Tom. But WHO cares? Other than US, the ones taking the blasted drugs.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 25, 2019 @ 4:04 PM

    • I agree, Tom. Not acceptable at all.
      Before highly profitable AEDs were invented, the ketogenic diet was the medical standard of care. It is not some new-fangled lunatic fringe idea. The problem with it is that nobody can patent it and make a profit off of it. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by paleobird — June 25, 2019 @ 5:03 PM

      • Then we the people need to get the doctors and politicians on board that they need to pressure these drug companies and the FDA that it will no longer be tolerared.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Tom — June 25, 2019 @ 5:24 PM

  8. Just like you can’t patent vitamins, minerals and/or herbs.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 25, 2019 @ 5:10 PM

  9. This is great info as always Phylis. Sharing to Epilepsy support NZ and Australia. I had been taking Valproate for three years, during that time I had experienced severe depression and anxiety. After changing to Lamotrigine I am now back to being my happy, normal self. Thank you for this info, it is a huge help to identifying epilepsy personality traits and meds side effect. It is so important to check our meds.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by vhealing — June 25, 2019 @ 8:47 PM

  10. You’ve got it. Check our meds and check each other. Because that’s who’s here to help.

    Glad you’re able to share, and I’m happy to share my own experience with Lamotrigine.

    At first, it made me crazy/hyper. But when I settled down and changed my bedtime dose to 6 PM, all was well.

    No more side effects and virtually (well 99%) seizure-free for 10+ years.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 25, 2019 @ 10:55 PM

  11. Thank you for your posts which are informative and helpful.
    What is a better alternative than Paxil?
    I read that as an anticholinergic it may increase memory loss. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Marshall Sommers — June 26, 2019 @ 10:21 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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