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What Drugs Can Cause Seizures?

author image Lia Stannard
Lia Stannard has been writing about women’s health since 2006. She has her Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and is pursuing a doctorate in clinical health psychology.
What Drugs Can Cause Seizures?
Certain drugs can cause seizures.

The Epilepsy Foundation states that each year, 300,000 people have their first seizure, a brain condition in which patients have abnormal electrical activity. When a seizure interferes with the brain's electrical activity, it disrupts normal communication between the brain and the body. Using certain drugs, both prescribed and recreational, can cause seizures in some people. If a person suspects that her medications cause her seizures, she needs to talk to her doctor first before discontinuing use.

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Medications for Mental Health Disorders

Some medications prescribed for mental disorders can cause patients to have seizures if they take more than the dosage recommended by their doctors. For example, buspirone, a drug that treats anxiety, may cause seizures. Chlorpromazine, which treats schizophrenia, a psychological disorder that causes a disconnect with reality, may trigger seizures. Other antipsychotic drugs that can result in seizures include clozapine and haloperidol. The Merck Manual Home Edition notes that an overdose of a tricyclic antidepressant, an older type of antidepressant, can cause seizures. Examples of tricyclic antidepressants include imipramine, amitriptyline and a combination of amitriptyline and chlordiazepoxide. Another antidepressant, buproprion, a type of norepinephrine dopamine reuptake inhibitor, may cause seizures. Lithium, a drug used for bipolar disorder, may also trigger seizures. People who stop using barbiturates, an anti-anxiety medication, after regular use can have seizures.


Antibiotics work by either killing the bacteria from an infection or preventing their reproduction and spread through the patient's body. The Merck Manual Home Edition states that patients who take too much of ceftazidime, ciprofloxacin or imipenem may have seizures. Ingesting high levels of penicillin can also trigger seizures.

Pain Medications

Like other drugs that can cause seizures, taking too much of a pain medication can trigger a seizure. For example, patients who take more than their recommended dosage for tramadol and meperidine may have seizures. The Merck Manual Home Edition states that indomethacin, which reduces inflammation along with the pain, is another drug that may cause seizures. Patients who stop using pain medications, like gabapentin and morphine, after large doses may have seizures.

Recreational Drugs

Using certain recreational drugs can cause seizures in some people. For example, Medline Plus states that amphetamine use may result in seizures. An overdose of cocaine can also cause seizures. People who stop using alcohol after heavy and regular use can have seizures.

Other Drugs

Other types of drugs may result in seizures. For example, chloroquine, a malaria treatment, may cause seizures. The Merck Manual Home Edition notes that cyclosporine, a medication that both prevents and treats an organ transplant rejection, may trigger seizure. Theophylline, a drug for asthma treatment, may also cause seizures.

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