Once a patient receives the diagnosis of epilepsy, it is time to begin considering treatment options. Since curing the disease is not possible, the treatment focuses on controlling seizures. This is typically done in one of three ways: drug therapies, lifestyle changes, and surgery.
Many drugs are available for the treatment of epilepsy, several of which have just recently been released, such as Perampanel which is the first of a new class of drugs. It appears to cause an excitatory response in the brain, and offers relief for drug addiction as well as epilepsy patients (Simon). There are many other relatively new drugs, and medical researchers are constantly developing more. All anti-epileptic drugs act as anticonvulsants. There are several anti-epileptic drugs like phenytoin, carbamazepine, and divalproex, which are considered the front-line drugs—the ones doctors try first; if patients do not respond well to them, doctors will move on to other drugs (Simon).
If used consistently, over time, these medications can reduce or even prevent the patient from any more seizures. Doctors are careful to monitor their patients, especially when they begin taking the anti-epileptic drugs, just in case patients do not respond well to them. Patients should be sure to take their medication as directed and pay close attention to see if they may need to change to a different kind if it causes them to act abnormally. All anti-epileptic drugs can show side effects in some patients, including drowsiness and lethargy, suicidal thoughts, depression, liver damages, birth defects (when taken during pregnancy), and changes in behavior; however, these side effects often disappear after the patient uses them for a few weeks (Simon). Children who take anti-epileptic drugs often have difficulty with behavioral problems (Simon). This can be a real issue for school-aged children.
Unfortunately, for some patients, medication does not control, or even change the frequency or severity of seizures. Epilepsy that does not get better after trying two or three different anti-seizure drugs is called “medically refractory epilepsy” (Health Guide). This type of epilepsy often must be treated...