Generally AED treatment is not prescribed until at least seizures have occurred and a diagnosis of epilepsy has been made. Occasionally treatment will commence after just one seizure, if the doctor believes the person is at a high risk of repeated seizures before a diagnosis can be confirmed.
Optimally, decisions about treatment are made jointly by you and your doctor after your particular circumstances have been taken into consideration. Often the type of seizure will, in part, play a role in determining which medication your doctor will recommend.
The choice of AED is usually based on a range of factors, including:
- Your seizure type/s
- Your age
- Your gender (particularly if you are woman living with epilepsy and of childbearing age)
- Your general health
- How well you can tolerate the medication
- Any other health-related conditions you may have
- Any other medications you may already be taking
- The impact of seizure activity on your life and wellbeing.
Commencing medication does not always mean it has to be taken for life. Regular medical reviews with your doctor are recommended and sometimes medication will only be taken for a limited time.
Seizures often happen without any pattern, so it can be frustrating to take tablets if you don’t experience frequent seizures. It’s important to remember that epilepsy is a ‘silent’ condition and, even if you aren’t experiencing seizures, it doesn’t mean your epilepsy is cured or ‘gone away’.
Taking medication is a personal choice, but it is important to make an informed decision. Your doctor will welcome the opportunity to discuss any AED concerns you may have, so that you have a good understanding about why a particular medication plan has been recommended.