What Medications Help Manage Epilepsy?

  • Medications that are used to treat epilepsy are called antiseizure medications (ASMs)
  • ASMs are also sometimes called antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), anticonvulsants, or epilepsy medications
  • ASMs are a major part of your epilepsy treatment plan

7 out of 10 patients have fewer seizures when taking ASMs

How long you will have to take medication depends on:

  • Type of epilepsy
  • Type of seizure
  • How long since you’ve had your last seizure
  • Your age

How Do Epilepsy Medications Work?

Epilepsy medications work by changing the way nerve cells (neurons) in the brain talk to each other. ASMs decrease the amount of signals overactive neurons send to each other in the brain, which may lead to fewer seizures.


Different Types of Epilepsy Medications

There are many different types of medications available for epilepsy. They are different from each other in several ways:

  • How they work in the brain
  • How they work for different seizure types
  • How they work for different patients
  • What side effects they have
  • How they interact with other medication
  • How you take them

Generic vs Brand Name Medications

New brand name ASMs become available to patients after many studies have been conducted to make sure they are safe and effective. The companies that manufacture these brand name medications are allowed to sell the medicine, without generic competition, for a period of time. After that period of time, one or more generics may become available after they have been approved by the FDA, showing that they are equally as safe and effective as the brand name medication.

Generic medicines:
  • May cost less than brand name medicines
  • May be available in more than one generic version
  • Have the same active ingredient as the brand name version
  • Require different and usually fewer clinical studies

It is critical you do not switch ASMs unless specifically instructed by your doctor. If you and your doctor have made the decision to switch ASMs, let them know if you feel differently after switching your brand name or generic ASM.

Use these questions to help you understand more about medications.