Behavioral adverse effects of antiepileptic drugs in epilepsy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Patient tolerability is a significant limiting factor in the treatment of epilepsy and adverse effect profiles often determine drug retention rates. A full appreciation of the behavioral effects of a wide range of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) is therefore essential to make informed treatment decisions. In this timely review, we highlight key alterations in mood, emotional experience, and other behavioral/psychiatric features, which can exert a crucial impact on patients' quality of life and well-being. With a view to prescribing both in general and in relation to more specific clinical characteristics, the evidence reviewed indicates that the incidence and characteristics of behavioral effects may be related to age, epilepsy type, the presence of learning disability, and previous psychiatric history. Medication parameters including dosage, titration rate, efficacy in controlling seizures, and concurrent AEDs can also contribute to the occurrence of behavioral effects. However, there are a number of limitations in drawing conclusions from the available literature. These include variation in study design, treatment group, and assessment tools that lead to difficulties comparing findings across studies, and problems with the consistency of available information relating to the study methodology. Future longitudinal studies assessing the impact of tolerance or developmental change on behavioral effects and specific studies comparing the effects of commonly prescribed agents across subgroups of patients with epilepsy will make an informative contribution to the available literature. A valuable outcome of further research may be the development of specific instruments that are sensitive to the behavioral effects associated with particular AEDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-75
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants/adverse effects
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders/chemically induced
  • Emotions/drug effects
  • Epilepsy/drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders/chemically induced
  • Neurotoxicity Syndromes/physiopathology


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