Epilepsy Medications

Learning that you or a loved one has epilepsy can cause worries, but the right treatment can help you get the most out of life. At Henry Ford Health, you’ll find expert care from a trusted team of epilepsy specialists.

Our care team works closely with you to understand what you’re experiencing and design a personalized treatment plan. After a thorough evaluation, we begin your treatment with medications to control seizures. With the right medication, many people can become seizure-free without side effects.

What are epilepsy and seizure medications?

Epilepsy is a neurological (brain and nervous system) disorder that involves seizures, which result from bursts of electrical activity in the brain. Anti-epileptic, also called anti-seizure, medications help reduce excessive electrical activity in the brain to prevent seizures.

Epilepsy and seizure medications at Henry Ford: Why choose us?

At the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, our team specializes in evaluating people with epilepsy symptoms to provide an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Through years of research and patient care, we’ve developed extensive experience using medications to successfully manage seizures.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Expertise from multiple specialties: Your highly trained team has decades of experience in evaluating, diagnosing and treating epilepsy and seizures. After your tests, the team meets to review the results and decide on the best treatment options for you. Meet our epilepsy team.
  • National recognition: The National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) has certified us as a level 4 epilepsy center. That means we have the professional expertise and facilities to provide the highest level of medical and surgical treatment for people with complex epilepsy.
  • Comprehensive care: About two out of three people with epilepsy find relief from seizures with medications. Our team has decades of experience recommending medications and fine-tuning them to provide the best possible care for you. Learn more about epilepsy and the types of seizures we treat with medications.
  • Specialized pediatric care: Our epilepsy team includes doctors, surgeons, nurses and other care providers who specialize in treating children who have epilepsy and seizures. Learn more about our pediatric epilepsy care at Henry Ford.
  • Precise diagnosis: To provide an accurate diagnosis, our doctors use advanced technology, including epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) and MEG scans. Learn more about our epilepsy and seizure evaluation and treatment.

Types of medications for seizures and epilepsy

With more than 25 anti-seizure medications available, you have a variety of treatment options. At your first visit, we take time to understand your symptoms and listen to your concerns. After advanced testing to confirm a diagnosis, we discuss options for medications that can best treat the seizures you’re experiencing.

Various anti-seizure drugs work in different ways, and we choose options for you based on several factors, including:

  • Type of seizure
  • Area of the brain where seizures begin
  • Seizure frequency
  • Your age and lifestyle considerations
  • Your other medications and health conditions
  • Possible side effects or interactions of medications

One medication may work well for you, or you may need a combination to control seizures. You visit your care team regularly so we can see how you’re doing and adjust medications and dosages if your needs change over time.

The two main categories of anti-seizure medications (ASMs) are:

  • Narrow-spectrum ASMs: These medications treat focal seizures, which occur in a specific part of the brain.
  • Broad-spectrum ASMs: For people who have several types of seizures or generalized seizures (in more than one part of the brain), broad-spectrum ASMs usually work best.

In-depth evaluation for epilepsy and seizures

Although medications provide relief for many people, up to a third of people with epilepsy don’t respond to treatment with medications. If you still have seizures after trying two medications, either alone or together, surgery may be an option.

To decide whether surgery can help you, our epilepsy team conducts more intensive testing to learn more about the seizures you’re experiencing. Our epilepsy monitoring unit, or EMU, is a unit with specialized hospital rooms where you stay one or more nights for inpatient testing and evaluation. Find out more about our epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) and epilepsy clinic appointments to help you see our team as quickly as possible.

Surgery for epilepsy and seizures

During your stay at our EMU, if we find that you may benefit from epilepsy surgery, our skilled epileptologists and epilepsy neurosurgeons are ready to help. We have experience in the most advanced surgical techniques and technologies to treat adults with complex seizures and epilepsy syndromes. Read more about options for epilepsy surgery, including responsive neurostimulation and deep brain stimulation (DBS).

Research to advance care for epilepsy and seizures

Since the late 1980s, Henry Ford researchers have pioneered groundbreaking research to advance the standard of care for people with epilepsy and seizures. With a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Master Contract, we participate in ongoing clinical trials for promising medications, surgery and other treatments.

You have access, if eligible, to these clinical trials offering the latest treatments before they’re available to the public. Learn more about our epilepsy research.

Take the Next Step

Request information or make an appointment, call (800) 436-7936.


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