Antiepileptic drugs for the treatment of agitation and aggression in dementia: do they have a place in therapy?

Drugs. 2014 Oct;74(15):1747-55. doi: 10.1007/s40265-014-0293-6.


Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) are a class of medications that have received considerable attention as possible treatments for agitation and aggression in patients with dementia. This attention has been driven in equal measure by promising findings from limited trial and observational data and the desire to find treatments with improved tolerability. Their use, to date, has been largely confined to circumstances where first-line treatments have proven inadequate or are poorly tolerated. In recent years there has been some growth in the evidence base, and we can now make more informed recommendations regarding a number of older AEDs. Carbamazepine continues to have the best evidence to support its use, although the evidence base remains relatively small and concerns regarding tolerability limit its use. There is now more consistent evidence that valproate preparations should not be used for agitation and aggression in dementia. Despite a lack of high-quality data, some results have been reported for several newer medications, including levetiracetam, oxcarbazepine, gabapentin, topiramate and lamotrigine, and a number of these warrant further investigation. Recent findings and implications for clinical practice are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aggression / drug effects*
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use*
  • Dementia / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Psychomotor Agitation / drug therapy*


  • Anticonvulsants