According to a study that was presented on December 3, 2012, at the Annual Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society in San Diego, SSRIs may be used as an anti-seizure medication to help reduce episodes in epileptic patients.

The study was conducted on epileptic patients who were given SSRIs (Paxil) and SNRIs (Effexor). Led by Dr. Ramses Ribot of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, the researchers monitored the epileptic patients’ responses to the drugs (including their mood and anxiety levels) at intervals of 3 months and 6 months after starting the antidepressant therapy. What they found was that 86 percent of the patients experienced a remission in their seizures. Basically, the antidepressants like Paxil did not worsen the patients’ seizures, and instead actually appeared to help them.

“Our studies also suggest these antidepressants may actually have an anti-seizure effect in patients with frequent seizures,” Ribot explained.

While more studies will have to be conducted to confirm these findings, the researchers are certain that this information will help doctors in treating epileptic patients for seizures and depression in the future.

“This study provides additional support for the safety and effectiveness of antidepressant medications in patients with epilepsy and comorbid [co-existing] depression,” said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

While antidepressants like Paxil and Effexor are often used as a treatment for depression, the pills are linked to serious side effects that should be considered before being administered by a doctor to an epileptic patient. For example, both of these pills have been connected to violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior. Ironically, the pills have also been linked to babies being born with birth defects, including PPHN, oral clefts, spina bifida and neural tube defects, when the mothers take the pills while pregnant… the irony being that a popular epileptic medication used to treat seizures (Topamax) is also linked to birth defects. In this case, doctors should keep looking for safer medications when treating epileptics.