Memory problems and AEDs?

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I am a new member, my name is Robin and I am from the UK. I am 51 years old and have been complaining of memory problems for a long time now. This year I read a brief article on the side effects of anti-epileptic drugs, which included memory, speed of thinking and movement, and I am thinking to myself is it because of the anti-epileptic drug I take? I take Tegretrol Retard, (carbamazepine) 400mg twice a day? I had a grand mal when I was 21 and other than a quick spell on phenytoin, I have been on Tegretol for a long time now.

Can anyone advise please? Have they had a similar experience? Are there new anti-epileptic drugs that would better suit me? Or is the memory and speed of thought problems either a consequence of epilepsy and/or a comment on my age?

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards,

Welcome Robin

I"m also on Tegretol Retard (that's Tegretol XR in the US & Tegretol CR in Canada). I've been on it for over 30 years & I've been getting all the side-effects you mentioned. I"m very moody (& some people say cynical) & I tend to think that's a side-effect as well.

There are some sites that you can look up the side-effects of Tegretol, here's one of them Also remember when doing a search for tegretol that the chemical name is Carbamazpine.

Something I did learn after taking it for decades was to take it with food or after eating. I don't know if that will lessen the side-effects but it will help save your stomach lining.

For my memory I take various oils (usually fish & flaxseed) because of the essential fatty acids in them & a green drink which has tons of stuff in a base of spirulina. I find taking it every morn helps give me physical and mental energy & does help my memory. It's still pretty bad but I think these supplements help.
I'm on

Carbatrol, which is another form of carbamazepine.

I, too, have some of the problems with memory that you're speaking of. Not all the time though. Part of that has to do with my sleep patterns, too. My memory can be really bad..........I sometimes find my keys in the refrigerator (no joke). But I'm not really that moody.
Hi Robin --

Unfortunately all the AEDs tend to affect memory, since their main function is to prevent neurons from making connections. Have you talked with your neurologist about possibly decreasing the dosage? Sometimes as the body ages and metabolism slows or hormones change, a lower dose can do the trick. And there are other AEDs out there like Lamictal that might be easier on your memory, but there's no way to know for sure since everyone reacts differently.

Thank you for all the very useful replies. My thoughts are:

1. It is re-assuring to know that this is a known problem.
2. I have left a message with my neurologist to see if he can advise on my medication - it would be great to get a solution that at the same time does not put at risk my driving licence. If I have a petit mal, I would loose my licence.

Best regards,
I used to have memory issues, but found that when I took fish oil capsules, my memory improved.
Thank you.

Is there any clinical evidence that fish oils (with epa and/or dha) is good for epileptics? as opposed to actually being harmful?

Regards, Robin
I've never heard anything about fish oils being harmful to people with E. I only know them to be good for memory with lots of Omega 3 & "good" fats.
Yup, fish oil/Omega 3s has been shown to help reduce seizures in a few different studies.
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