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Epilepsy Research UK
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Long term effect of anticonvulsants with cognitive functioning

Is there any evidence that the long term use of anti epileptic meds has an effect on ones cognitive ability? E.g. do they make a persons mental ability to grasp and process information more difficult? In lamens terms. Do they make you ‘slow’?

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Yes.!!!! My daughter (15) has been on meds for only a year but she has changed so much. Speech, writing, reading ability has been affected. Her short term memory is rubbish at times, she forgets what day/year it is. I have read the young epilepsy guide for parents and spoken to 2 neurologists about it. Not only is it a side effect of the meds its also the effect of epilepsy on her brain. She is still determined to go to university. x

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It's a good thing it will make her memory stronger. I'm doing it. Just started my sophomore year for electrical engineering. I was awful at math, I've learned so much. The stress is something I'm learning to deal with. My memory has gotten much better since I started school.

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She sounds like a very young determined girl, I hope she achieves her goals. Don’t be scared in questioning the neurologist(s) & seeking further advice/guidance. Good luck. X

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Hi, it does depend on which anti drugs & levels one is on plus what type of seizures. The side effects on my fairly new drugs, I are feel weaker & tired but still do my fitness, golf & badminton plus yoga to help me with my anxiety issues. My speech is ok. But who knows in 10 yrs time!!! X SJ

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I have personally been on Sodium Valporate for about twenty years now. Generally I’m fine and it’s controlled my epilepsy well allowing me to live a normal life almost as if I’ve never been aficted with this awful condition. I’ve come to realise of late however that my short term memory isn’t what it should be I.e. half way through the working day I wouldn’t be able to remember if I’d had a cup of tea for breakfast etc. I have recently started a new job and found it quite difficult to absorb complex and sometimes even simple information forgetting how I’ve been taught to do things. I suffer from anxiety and fear of being judged inept in the workplace. I know that this in itself isn’t an issue where I should focus on what I’m doing and/or being taught I’m more concerned with messing up and being laughed at or being branded as useless. I know people learn at different rates but a colleague who started at the same time as me ‘got’ things much quicker and I can’t help but to compare myself. However I digress, I believe my short term memory and my ability to process complex information is poor. I’m by no means what I would call unintelligent as I have studied at university level. I’m not looking at my condition and the medication prescribed for it as an excuse but I do wonder if that’s the cause. Please excuse the essay but I’m baring my soul to complete strangers in the hope that I’m not alone in my predicament

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I think it's a part of the problem. How long since you're levels have been checked?

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I’ve not had the levels of my meds checked since I was put on them in over twenty years. I imagine as I’ve not suffered a seizure recently my GPs must think if it’s not broken then don’t fix it

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There might be something going on. That's a place to start anyway.

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I’ve been on Vimpat and Keppra for many yrs,plus buspar for anxiety, Effexor XR for my depression. I contort by body and lose function,fall,haven’t driven in 6-7 yrs?.....I forget. LOL I put my meds in lil Dixie cups every night. Morning/night/afternoon meds so I know if I took them. I just deal with the hand god gave me. But I hate that my quality of life is now out of my hands. My body aches so bad and after seizures it’s like a car ran over me!

Horrible headaches but I can’t even get my pain medication anymore because I use medical cannibis for my Epilepsy. These Drs I’ve been with 10 years had no problems, they knew me. But insurance got cancelled again! So,all the new Drs at the other Cox hospital don’t want me as a patient! Living with Epilepsy and y memories lost forever is bad enough.

But being a retired 53 yr old mother of 4 grown children in Missouri and not being able to get proper medical treatment is so wrong! I’m not going to go to these “pain clinics” pee in a cup and wait with a bunch of drug seekers to get my treatment.

Sorry for venting, I’m hurting

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Like you Mark I’m not aware that you could get your levels checked! My belief was if it worked don’t touch! The side effects can vary so much (highs to lows) which I discovered in the last few years, having changed medication a few times!! Fingers X now.

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Ive been on Dilantan, Tegretol and now Lamictal in which my Dr. always check my blood level at least once a year.

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Hi, thanks will ensure I have my blood levels checked in the future. Do they check your drug level or is it more a health blood check? X SJ

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Definitely depends on the meds. I struggled when I was trying to find one that worked but now I have been on Sodium Valproate for about 11 years and in that time completed an undergraduate degree, a masters, a PhD (maths and then specialising in medical statistics) and several jobs which use those qualifications. I would say SV either does not effect my cognitive ability or certainly not severely.

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I've been on Carbamazepine and Phenytoin for over 30 years. Memory goes on all anticonvulsant medication and depending on dosage and which one also counts. Otherwise no serious problems. They control my seizures.

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