Can anti-epileptic medications cause amnesia?

Q. Is there any way to get amnesia through anti-epileptic medications?

Answered by
Dr. Shivam Om Mittal
and medically reviewed by Dr. Hemalatha
This is a premium question & answer published on Mar 08, 2020

Hi doctor,

This is for my dad. He has epilepsy and is now 52 years old. Last Saturday, he went on his normal routine of getting ready but did not know what happened and he walked out of the house without any clothes. When we asked him if he was okay, he said yes. But after the whole episode, when we asked him if he knew what he did, he said no. We do think that his epilepsy is triggered by less sleep and the only medication he takes is Gabapentin. We think that he is getting depressed because he has a loss of appetite, loss of weight, slowness in activity, concentration problem and occasional mood swings. His current neurologist does not do anything and all he does is keep doing a blood test each time.



Welcome to

Thank you for your question.

History of epilepsy and intermittent episodes of confusion with loss of memory of the episode (amnesia) is concerning for seizures.

For the workup of seizures, he should get routine brain wave testing (EEG - electroencephalogram) or a long-term EEG monitoring to identify any abnormal brain discharges which can cause a seizure.

Other things to look at it is head imaging like CT head or MRI brain (if not done already) as it is not uncommon for elderly patients to have blood collection around the brain (subdural hematoma) to present with altered awareness or confusion.

I agree with blood tests as an initial test to look for metabolic encephalopathy due to deranged blood electrolytes level and body metabolites such as BUN (blood urea nitrogen), ammonia, etc.

Please do not hesitate to reply if you have any other questions or concerns.

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