What Are Seizure Medications?

Seizure medications, also called antiseizure medications, are prescribed by one's health care team for the treatment of seizures. Some are used to control the frequency of seizures. Some are used to reduce the severity of the seizures. Others are used to stop seizures while they are occurring (rescue therapies).

The same seizure medications used in children can be used in adults. How a medicine is chosen will be different though. In adults, things to consider when choosing a seizure medicine include:

What If Medicine Doesn’t Work?

In about 60% of people with epilepsy, the first 1 or 2 medicines tried will completely control seizures. But if a medicine doesn’t work, or side effects of the medicine are bothersome, it’s time to get another opinion.

  • See an epilepsy specialist to make sure you have epilepsy. Having the right diagnosis and knowing the type of epilepsy can make a world of difference when choosing the right therapy.
  • If the events are not epilepsy, ask about nonepileptic events. Are there other physical problems that need to be treated or is there a psychological basis? Knowing this will help you find the right way to treat these. (link to nonepileptic events)
  • If it is epilepsy and seizure medicines are not working, then an epilepsy specialist can help sort out what other treatments may be possible. Examples may include:
  • Other therapies may be considered too, such as medical use of cannabis. This is not approved for medical use of epilepsy in the United States, but testing is being done. (link)

When Medicines Don’t Work — John Hixson, MD

Authored By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Authored Date: 
Reviewed By: 
Epilepsy Foundation Communications
Wednesday, July 21, 2021