Common Medications and Treatments for Epilepsy

The most common treatment for epilepsy is taking medication to control seizures. These medications, called anticonvulsants drugs, antiepileptic drugs or anti-seizure drugs, are described in the table below.


Drug Category

How the Medication Works


  • Sodium channel blockers
  • GABA receptor agonists
  • GABA reuptake inhibitors
  • GABA transaminase inhibitors
  • Glutamate blockers
There are numerous anticonvulsant medications available in the United States.These drugs, which are typically taken in pill form, work by decreasing abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Doctors and patients work together to choose a medication or combination of medications based on the type of seizures the patient experiences, which side effects should be avoided, convenience of use, cost and physician experience.



  • Surgery may be performed to correct a structural problem in the brain, such as a tumor, abnormal blood vessels, or bleeding in the brain.
  • Surgery to remove abnormal brain cells or implant a vagus nerve stimulation device may be performed if multiple anti-seizure drugs have been unable to control a patient’s seizures.
  • Children may be placed on a special diet, called a ketogenic diet, which is high in fats and low in carbohydrates. This diet can help reduce the frequency of seizures in some children with epilepsy.


Written by Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS