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Anticonvulsants for Restless Legs Syndrome

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
carbamazepineTegretol
gabapentinNeurontin
gabapentin enacarbilHorizant
pregabalinLyrica

How It Works

Anticonvulsants are used to help control or prevent abnormal increases in brain electrical activity. They are primarily used for people who have seizures. They may help suppress electrical activity in the brain that causes restless legs syndrome symptoms.

Why It Is Used

Anticonvulsants may help people with restless legs syndrome. They are sometimes used when symptoms are severe and can be used in combination with other drugs.

How Well It Works

While anticonvulsants help relieve symptoms in some people, they have no effect on others.

Side Effects

Drowsiness, dizziness, tremors, blurred vision, nausea, and poor coordination have all been reported as occasional side effects when these medicines were used as treatment for other conditions. Research is needed to discover whether side effects are different when these drugs are used to treat restless legs syndrome.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on anticonvulsants and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take anticonvulsant medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take anticonvulsant medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Anticonvulsants may increase the chance of birth defects. If you are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, talk to your doctor before taking these medicines.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
Last Revised March 8, 2013

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