Most people with well-controlled seizures would like to stop taking their seizure medicines. In some cases, this can be done with the supervision of your doctor. You have the best chance of remaining seizure-free without medication if:

  • You had few seizures before you started taking seizure medicine
  • Your seizures were easily controlled with one type of medicine
  • You have normal results on a neurological examination
  • You have a normal EEG
  • You have a normal CT scan or MRI

There are no guarantees, however. Even people who meet all these criteria sometimes have more seizures. No one can predict when they might occur. A decision about whether to stop taking seizure medicines should only be made after a long conversation with your neurologist, weighing all the risks. Are the possible results of another seizure (like injury or loss of your driver's license) more acceptable than the continued effects of your medication?

When do doctors consider it safe to stop taking seizure medicines?

Most doctors will consider tapering the dosage and discontinuing your seizure medicines after a seizure-free period of 2 to 4 years. If you have had only one seizure, some doctors will consider discontinuing the medicine if you have been seizure-free for 6 to 12 months.

Certain types of seizures in children usually stop on their own by a certain age. For instance, the seizures of benign rolandic epilepsy are very unlikely to occur again after age 16 years, so many doctors will allow teenagers with this type to stop taking their seizure medicine at about that age. By contrast, however, the seizures in juvenile myoclonic epilepsy are often well controlled by valproate (Depakote) but are very likely to reappear if that medicine is stopped. These patients should continue taking their seizure medicine.

Authored by: Steven C. Schachter, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN | Joseph I.Sirven, MD on 7/2013
Reviewed by: Joseph I. Sirven, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN on 3/2014
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