I’ve been taking Keppra 1000mg daily for over three years since 26 years old and have been coming to terms with the side effects of panic attacks and anxiety.
When I think back on it, I began experiencing these symptoms not long after starting Keppra. I think it’s taken me so long to connect the dots of the symptoms with the medication because I have been able to cope normally (just tolerated a consistent subtle feeling of uneasiness), and also because I didn’t know much about anxiety and panic attacks. Additionally I am a rather hard headed person, for better or for worse, and go to great length to rely on myself by all means and will blame myself for personal issues before anything else.
Some insight on what I mean when I say anxiety and panic attacks..
For over a year now I have felt a feeling of uneasiness almost on a daily basis, usually starting at 6 in the evening. A wave of nervousness will hit me like clockwork and linger. I’ll feel a tingling sensation in my legs and butterflies in my stomach. Thankfully it’s not debilitating, but it’s not a comfortable feeling.
Panic attacks are not so common but they’ve occurred a number of times. I remember not long after starting Keppra I was in a Wal Mart and all of a sudden I felt a heightened sense of worry and was in a “fight or flight” mode. I thought I was going to have a seizure and immediately wanted to sit down. After a few minutes the sensation subsided and everything went back to normal. [Afterwards, I thought I was overcoming fear of having a seizure and also said I just don’t like Wal Mart, which I don’t. I usually only go there if I have to.]
A year later I was in a grocery store looking at cans of soup and suddenly I felt a similar overwhelming sensation that put me in an immediate fight or flight mode. I began walking out of the store and even left my cart with food behind. I got in my car and said I’d come back another time. I went to the store again a few days later and everything was back to normal. I bought some soup. [Afterwards, I just thought I was overwhelmed by so many cans of soup – there was a lot of selection!]
A few months later one night when I was home alone working on my computer I suddenly felt this devastating feeling of worry. A tingling sensation swept over my body and I felt no motivation to do anything. After a few minutes I decided to go to bed even though it was only 9pm. I laid down and the tingling continued. I was not able to sleep mostly due to hunger and finally forced myself out of bed at 2am to eat bread. I finally was able to sleep and woke up the next day as though it was a normal day.
Since then the feelings of anxiety have intensified to the point that I’ve developed a subtle fear of driving, which is what motivated me to start looking into what these feelings actually are. I’ve joined a couple epilepsy support groups and inquired about Keppra and was surprised to receive dozens of responses from people saying they’ve experienced such extreme side effects of anxiety from Keppra that they’ve changed medication.
Someone mentioned that Vitamin B can diminish side effects, which made me think back to my original prescription of Keppra and Vitamin B12 daily. The neurologist had not explained what the B12 was for and I didn’t ask. I took the B12 for a few months but stopped taking after reading online that it was a basic supplement for women of childbearing age. I assumed it was a general supplement and did not know it was actually to counteract side effects of Keppra! So be sure to ask about the medication and supplements your doctor prescribes to you so you know what they are for and why you are taking them.
I purchased B12 almost a week ago and have been taking 500mg daily. I have noticed an improvement in regards to diminished feeling of anxiety. I do not feel the lingering tingling sensation so much that I’ve been feeling nightly and have been feeling more at ease. However, today I visited my grandma and her caregiver and, out of all places, I had a subtle panic attack while first visiting. For some reason a feeling of uneasiness settled over me and I felt like I wanted to flee, but I continued sitting at the table as everyone talked and just waited for minutes to pass by. I didn’t tell anyone what I was feeling. Thank the universe the feelings began to subside! It was five minutes of mental madness.
I am planning to see a neurologist soon to share my experiences and inquire about other medications since Keppra seems to be draining me. I want to have an EEG done to analyze my brain activity. I have read that the panic attacks can possibly be a symptom of focal onset awareness seizures, which is where a person is conscious while experiencing the seizure. I’m just confused about this form of seizure, if that’s what it is, since it is not similar to my former seizures.
I am thankful to say that I have not had “physical” symptoms of seizures like I had before taking Keppra and have been able to live a normal life. I used to have petit mal seizures regularly where my arms would suddenly jut out or my legs would give out. I also had over six tonic clonic seizures over a few years that were occurring more frequently over time. Tonic clonic seizures are truly debilitating.
I’ll be writing more about my experience with epilepsy and how I’ve been coping.
Lauren Ell is an American blogger born and raised in Southern California and is currently based in Sweden. She discusses Epilepsy, Politics and Fun. Professionally Ell is an Online Marketing Consultant and Virtual Assistant. Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.