Although antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are commonly used to control and prevent seizures, their long-term use carries a considerable risk of morbidity. The decision to start AEDs is made once the risks of further seizures outweigh the risks of treatment. Despite a large body of literature on the subject, this common clinical issue perplexes many practitioners because of its neurologic, psychological, and, at times, legal implications. Adding to the confusion is the recent approval of several new AEDs. This article summarizes the current evidence to support individual clinical decisions regarding initiation of AEDs in adults and considers the use of AEDs as seizure prophylaxis. Recently approved AEDs are discussed to help the practitioner understand when to initiate and how to choose the appropriate AED for the patient with seizures.
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