Use of antiepileptic drugs for nonepileptic conditions: psychiatric disorders and chronic pain

Neurotherapeutics. 2007 Jan;4(1):75-83. doi: 10.1016/j.nurt.2006.10.003.


Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are commonly utilized for nonepileptic conditions, including various psychiatric disorders and pain syndromes. Evidence for their benefit in these nonepileptic conditions varies widely among different drugs, but there is, in general, a paucity of published multicenter randomized double-blind trials. Variable levels of evidence suggest that lamotrigine and the vagal nerve stimulator have antidepressant properties. Carbamazepine, valproate, lamotrigine, and oxcarbazepine appear to have mood stabilizing properties while gabapentin, pregabalin, and tiagabine have anxiolytic benefits. Barbiturates, topiramate, and possibly phenytoin may precipitate or exacerbate depression. Underlying depression and anxiety symptoms may be exacerbated by levetiracetam, while psychotic symptoms have rarely been reported with topiramate, levetiracetam, and zonisamide. Pregabalin, gabapentin, carbamazepine, and oxcarbazepine have been used to treat neuropathic pain such as postherpetic neuralgia, and diabetic polyneuropathy. Topiramate and divalproex sodium have utility in the prophylaxis or acute treatment of migraine. Further rigorous studies are needed to clarify the utility of AEDs in nonepileptic conditions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Chronic Disease
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Pain / drug therapy*


  • Anticonvulsants