Antiepileptic Drugs

Anticonvulsants are medications that are used to control seizures.


Brand/Generic Drug Names

Diamox/acetazolamide, Dilantin/phenytoin, Zarontin/ethosuximide, Celontin/methsuximide, Tegretol/carbamazepine, Klonopin/clonazepam, Valium/diazepam, gabapentin, MgSO4, paraldehyde, Luminal/phenobarbital, Depakene]/valproic acid, Tranxene/clorazepate, Peganone/ethotin, Mesantoin/mephenytoinParadione/paramethadione, Phenurone/phenacemide, Milontin/phensuximide, Mysoline/primidone, Tridione/trimethadione
Common uses
Hydantoins: generalized tonic-clonic and psychomotor seizures, status epilepticus
Succinimides: absence seizures (petit mal)
Barbiturates: generalized tonic-clonic and cortical focal seizures
Hydantoins: inhibit spread of seizure activity in motor cortex
Succinimides: inhibit spike and wave formation, decrease amplitude, frequency, duration and spread of discharge in seizures
Barbiturates and benzodiazepines: discussed in their separate writeups
Class contraindications
Class precautions
renal and hepatic disease
decreased effect of estrogen, oral contraceptives (hydantoins)
Adverse Reactions
gastrointestinal symptoms, bone marrow depression, gingival hyperplasia, central nervous system effects
Additional Information
Assess renal function, complete blood count, hepatic function
Assess for mental status changes, eye problems, allergic reactions, blood dyscrasias, toxicity
Administer with food or milk to decrease gastrointestinal problems
Perform good oral hygiene
Evaluate therapeutic response: decreased seizure activity
Date of most recent Update
August 06, 2002
Further information is available in the writeup for the specific name(s) of this medication class

Anticonvulsants are often used as mood stabilizing medications for bipolar disorders. This stems from the evidence, first noticed by dr. Post and others in the 1980s, that the manic-depressive illness appears to exhibit kindling behaviour like epilepsy -- that is, each episode/seizure is likely to lower your episode/seizure threshold. Since most anticonvulsants have gone generic, atypical antipsychotics are now being researched and pushed as first-line treatment, but modern anticonvulsants like Depakote are very efficient as acute antimanics and others like lamotrigine are useful in treating bipolar depression with a lesser risk of triggering mania.

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