Anticonvulsants are a diverse group of pharmacological agents used in the treatment of epileptic seizures. Anticonvulsants are also increasingly being used in the treatment of bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, since many seem to act as mood stabilizers, and for the treatment of neuropathic pain.
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Several anticonvulsant medications are recognized as mood stabilizers to treat or prevent mood episodes in bipolar disorder. At first, anticonvulsants were prescribed only for people who did not respond to lithium. Today, they are often prescribed alone, with lithium, or with an antipsychotic drug to control mania.
Anticonvulsants work by calming hyperactivity in the brain in various ways. For this reason, some of these drugs are used to treat epilepsy, prevent migraines, and treat other brain disorders. They are often prescribed for people who have rapid cycling — four or more episodes of mania and depression in a year.
Anticonvulsants used to treat bipolar disorder include:
- Depakote, Depakene (divalproex sodium, valproic acid, or valproate sodium)
- Lamictal (lamotrigine)
- Tegretol (carbamazepine)