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Old 11-25-2003, 11:48 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 69
VeryOldLady HB User
Keppra side effects?

I've noticed that Keppra makes me forget things. I find myself trying to find the "right word" for the simplest things. It's even worse when I'm upset and trying to talk. I can't find simple words like "washing machine" or "stove" or "cabinet". This wasn't happening when I wasn't taking Keppra. I noticed it almost immediately.

I have to take it before going to bed, because if I don't I stumble around a couple hours after taking it. My husband jokes that I wouldn't pass a field sobriety test. Yet, several hours after taking it, I seem to be able to walk normally (with the exception of a little stumbling and dropping things here and there).

My mania isn't completely under control, so I have to up the dose, yet I still feel that the benefits outweigh the side effects at this point.

I started it at a high dose (250), and the side effects were too much, so I went off it and started back at a very tiny dose and am working my way back up.

I am willing to continue the dose, and am following doctor's orders, but I would feel a lot better knowing this isn't alzheimers' creeping up on me. My maternal grandmother had alzheimers and so I am concerned about the symptoms I'm experiencing.

Another side effect (a cool one) is that I am beginning to remember things about my childhood that I had totally forgotten. Nothing bad or good...just stuff I had forgotten. It suddenly pops in my head and I get to enjoy memories I hadn't had in a long time.

I do know that alzheimers patients do remember their childhood and forget short term things, but I don't think they suddenly remember things they totally forgot. I think they just don't forget what they had always remembered. My grandmother was doing things like placing items in very inappropriate places, and I haven't displayed anything like that.

Once when I first started taking Keppra, I was driving back from meeting my husband at Dairy Queen (we drove back in seperate cars), and suddenly it was like my brain had been wiped clean. I didn't know where I was, why I was in the turning lane and where I was headed. But I turned at the light and things began coming back to me. That hasn't happened since, and I think that was when I was taking the very high dose suddenly.

Do any of these side effects sound familiar? I'm tempted to go off the meds just to see if my memory prove it isn't my worst fear. But it took me so long to get to the level I'm at now and I don't want to have to start all over again.

Oh...and please don't let my signon name fool you. I just turned 40, so I'm not quite at that age where alzheimers should be starting...and my granmother was around 74 when I first noticed her symptoms (I don't even think the word "alzheimers" had been invented, yet) to be safe, let's just say it began at 70 for her. That's still 30 years older than me now.
I'm not old. Honest. I'm just not creative AND original when it comes to registering a username.

Last edited by VeryOldLady; 11-25-2003 at 11:54 PM.

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Old 11-27-2003, 10:21 PM   #2
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 69
VeryOldLady HB User
Re: Keppra side effects?

Nobody takes Keppra? Another name for it is levetiracetam, I think. (That's the "active ingredient", anyway).

Even if you are taking it or know someone taking it but are not getting those kinds of symptoms, I would like to hear that, also. Or, even if you had those symptoms, but they went away after a while, it would help me to know that, too.

I've read the side effects on line:


And serious reactions:

Sleepiness or feeling tired
Difficulty coordinating muscles normally, (e.g., abnormal walk)
Agitation, anxiety, and other mood changes
Decrease ability to cope with daily life events
Feeling depressed or worsening depression
Thoughts of suicide

But, as you can see, my "side effects" aren't listed here. However, I've had unlisted side effects before and I am sensitive to medicine (I had to sit here a couple minutes to remember the word "sensitive" before I could type it...this is what I'm talking about).

I'm also taking "alpha lipoic acid" to help with my eyes, since I have corneal dystrophy in both. It's supposed to help with alzheimers, also. I asked my doctor if this could be interfering, but he kept thinking I was referring to "valproic acid", which I think is a mania med. When I spelled it for him, he shrugged and said he had never heard of it before.

Any related experience with this medicine is greatly appreciated.
I'm not old. Honest. I'm just not creative AND original when it comes to registering a username.

Old 11-28-2003, 05:22 AM   #3
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Mount Joy, PA USA
Posts: 319
wobbly HB User
Re: Keppra side effects?

Hi Lady,
Do you live in the UK? That might be why none of us recognize the name Keppra. The same drugs have different names there than they do here. What are you taking the Keppra for? Is it a mood stabilizer or a tranquilizer/antianxiety med? Your list of side effects is kinda scary for someone who has bipolar. One thing you could do is buy one of those pill books that has details about different meds and interactions between them. I have one and it has a lot of good info in it.
I know what you mean about the Alzheimer's though--my grandmother had it, and everytime I forget a word I'm paranoid that it's the inital symptom of Alzheimer's. However, it could just be a side effect of your meds. Also, you're about my age (early 40s) and all my friends say they have more trouble finding the right word and remembering short-term stuff than we used to. Maybe it's just our brains aging! Incidentally, I read a study that says lithium can protect against Alzheimer's!

"Gentlemen, nothing's too good for the proletariat!"
--Union organizer "Big Bill" Heywood

Old 11-28-2003, 09:54 PM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 69
VeryOldLady HB User
Re: Keppra side effects?

No, I'm from the US but my doctor did tell me it was new. He calls it a mood-stablizer. He told me that taking antidepressants would not be a smart move. He said he tried it on a patient he described as being similar to me-creative, artistic, good sense of humor (what bipolar DOESN'T have those qualities? LOL)-and he said it works great for her. He had to tweak the dose a bit here and there, but that it eventually worked great for her.

I was "fighting him" to stay off moodmeds because I didn't want to lose my mania. I get filled with ideas and possess such an eagerness to study and learn. But I fell for his psyching me out with reverse psychology: ("You don't have to take this if you don't want to...but I would like for you to at least try it since it worked so well for my other patient") Sheesh! I have managed to avoid drugs my entire life in spite of the occasional high-school drug dealers and I fall for THAT line! So I started taking it and the dose was too high (I was around 85-90 when I began taking it, and so I was sensitive to it.), so I got off it, and listed the symptoms for him. But, I added that I was willing to let it drain from my body and then start it again with a very low dose (that was my idea, and he seemed surprised that I suggested it). But, after I started it back up with tiny doses, the mania began disappearing, but so did the anger, rage and impatience, ect. I realized that I was a more pleasant me even without my fun side of mania. I actually liked it. My husband noticed a difference and he liked it. And my creativity didn't really leave. I just didn't ahve all the ideas coming at once. It's like having so many nice things in a house, that you really don't have room to move around. Bad example, maybe. Here's one: It's like everyone throwing so many balls to you at once that you can't really catch one and do anything with it. Still bad example. I'll try to come up with a better one. But anyway, then the mania began to return and he said that I wasn't taking nearly the amount I need to take, even though I have been increasing it. I did stop increasing when the mania returned, because I wasn't sure if TAKING too much brought on mania, or taking not enough would bring it on. He told me I had to increase it so I'm increasing it again, hoping to be up to the amount he wants me to be by the next visit. He's ok with this. He's just happy that I didn't give up on the medicine so easily (NOW who's psyching WHO out? Huh? Huh? [giggle!]) So, perhaps the increase would help me figure out if these are side effects. If they are, I can live with that. But if they aren't...and truly alz, then I want to get treated immediately. I don't want to go off these just to find out what it is, because as you can see, it has taken quite a while to get up to this dose.

"Maybe it's just our brains aging!"
Don't take this personal, Wobbly, but YOU'RE BREAKING AND ENTERING IN MY FANTASY LAND, LADY!!! [just playing around a little...I'm just kidding] I know I SAY I'm 40, but up until I started talking the Keppra, I was feeling like a 20 year old. So, let's just throw the facts out the window and go by my pre-medicated age...which is twenty. HEY! You visit MY fantasy land, you live by MY rules! I'm 20! [grin] Can you tell I don't like to admit I'm 40? But, seriously, I don't think it's my age, though it's possible this could have happened suddenly and just a coinkydink that this this "age-related syndrome" happened at the same time I started taking Keppra. But as long as I'm not misplacing things in strange places, I'm not going to worry too much about it being alzheimers.

I was just wondering if anyone else was experiencing the same thing with Keppra. I think I'll groupgoogle keppra to see what I can find. Y'all certainly aren't going to lose me that easily if I do find something. I love this message board. I even recommended someone else to it before I became a member myself.
I'm not old. Honest. I'm just not creative AND original when it comes to registering a username.

Last edited by VeryOldLady; 11-28-2003 at 10:08 PM.

Old 11-29-2003, 04:49 AM   #5
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Mount Joy, PA USA
Posts: 319
wobbly HB User
Re: Keppra side effects?

LOL! At least your fantasy land is more probable than mine--wherein I don't have this stupid disease! I've always thought I'm much sharper mentally when I'm hypomanic, but who knows if it's true; I also thought I was a prophet last time I went manic. Then of course there's my maturity level, which is probably lower than 20!
I'm gonna do a search on Keppra, 'cuz I've never heard about it, but they seem to come up with a new stabilizer every other day!
Just out of curiosity, how old was your grandmother when her symptoms appeared?

"Gentlemen, nothing's too good for the proletariat!"
--Union organizer "Big Bill" Heywood

Old 12-01-2003, 02:36 AM   #6
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 69
VeryOldLady HB User
Re: Keppra side effects?

At least your fantasy land is more probable than mine--wherein I don't have this stupid disease!
I don't even think this IS a disease, to be honest. I think moodlevelers are the doctor's passive/agressive way to pharmacudically control our brilliant, eager-to-learn minds so they won't risk us eventually figuring out that psychotherapy is just a very expensive version of an imaginary friend...until our 50 minutes are up. [grin] (Man, I hope my doctor and imaginary friend aren't reading this!)

Just out of curiosity, how old was your grandmother when her symptoms appeared?
Well, if you had taken a few seconds to read my posts [giggle]...

I noticed the symptoms when she was around 73...74. I was visiting her for a month and while I was there (with my aunt, who lived with her), she would do strange things like put milk in the cupboard. One incident that happened that has always remained with me was that while I was there, I washed the dishes. One morning, I saw her pour Ivory dish washing liquid in her coffee grounds after she put the grounds in the coffee pot. I didn't know why she did that and I wasn't the type to ask questions back then. But, when my aunt tasted the coffee, she commented that the coffee tasted like dishwashing liquid. My grandmother said, "Yes it does" and then went on to blame me for not rinsing out the dishes well enough. I thought she was teaching me a lesson, but I wasn't getting the lesson. I had left a book out in the rain by accident and she woke me up early that morning to dry it out. But her "lesson" didn't parallel with my neglect. She was not the type of person to turn on anyone like that. She was always the sweetest woman...never had an enemy that I knew of. She was my lifetime role model. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up and I think I missed that mark by a longshot. LOL! But, the incident left me very confused and it was so bizaar that I didn't tell my parents because I thought maybe I had imagined it or something. I mean...who does that? I just figured at the time that I must have been the one to make the mistake, that maybe it was water she kept in a dishwashing bottle and that maybe I really did forget to rinse (though I don't even remember washing the thing). I was left doubting myself instead of her. And yet, my aunt had noticed that she was placing things in odd places and yelled at her about it. I guess this problem was so young in its infant stages that my aunt didn't think to consider the possibility of it being a physical problem.

I didn't realize what had happened until years later around 1984 when they came out with a movie about alzheimers. Our tv was busted so we only had sound (I was married and we were both going to college...couldn't afford a new set), but I was able to completely understand what had happened when I was listening to that movie.

A few years after getting alzheimers, my grandmother ended up with a broken hip that she couldn't remember getting dizzy. She said she was just standing in the basement and fell. Next time I saw her, she was hunched over. This was another thing I felt was odd because she was always after me for slouching. She told me I would end up like her (pointing to a stooped-over lady in church) if I didn't sit up straight. That same service, she discovered she had hearing problems because the preacher was talking straight to her and she didn't hear it. I think the hearing damage was due to bone loss, which was also why she fell. Osteoporosis. I honestly believe there is a link between osteoporosis and alzheimers, because she is not the only person I've bet who have had both occure seemingly simutaneously.

My mother hasn't begun developing the disease that I know of. My grandmother worked on a farm, so maybe she was effected by furtilizer or something. From what I understand, they can't diagnose alzheimers until the patient is dead and a biopsy is done, and that there are several types of brain disorders that come with aging. So, I'm not even sure what my chances of getting alz really is.

Oh! And, by the way, I'm not going by what a doctor said (I'm not sure what they diagnosed her with, but back then, everyone was expected to have memory problems). I'm "self-diagnosing" her based on what I had seen in her and then in the movie I was listening to. A few years ago I had a neighbor who had alz and she displayed pretty much the same symptoms (she was diagnosed with it). Although this lady didn't have a hearing problem. She did have osteo, though.
I'm not old. Honest. I'm just not creative AND original when it comes to registering a username.

Last edited by VeryOldLady; 12-01-2003 at 02:44 AM.

Old 12-01-2003, 06:17 AM   #7
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2002
Posts: 1,033
HoosierBj HB User
Re: Keppra side effects?

You are SO not going to like my post!!!
If you have reached the wonderful age of 40"ish", there is another possible culprit for your memory issues besides (or on top of) medications...
(I personally think you are too young to be concerned about Alzheimer's so far).
It is POSSIBLE that you are entering perimenopause. Do you know how old your Mom was when she started into it? You'll be around that same age they say.
I started having awful problems at work and started reading up on Menopause.

There are estrogen receptors in the parts of the brain that govern mood and emotion. Estrogen's interaction with neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, is also thought to influence menopausal symptoms of irritability, depression, and forgetfulness.

Add a bipolar chemical imbalance to that and I personally believe its at the base of my problems in the last couple years... I actually resigned from my job because I just couldn't do it - or at least do it well - anymore...

Anyway, since you're only 20 I know that this just doesn't apply, right??????

Old 12-02-2003, 02:16 AM   #8
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 69
VeryOldLady HB User
Re: Keppra side effects?

I considered that, Hoosier, but I think my mother was in her 50s when she started all that. I've checked the symptoms that were listed in another thread (which I copied and pasted here). The bold type are the symptoms I do have and the red type (usually in parenthesis) are my added comments.

1. Hot flashes, flushes, night sweats &/or cold flashes, clammy feeling. (related to increased activity in the autonomic/sympathetic nervous system)
2. Bouts of rapid heartbeat. (related to increased activity in the autonomic/sympathetic nervous system) (I have mitral valve prolapse and have always had this symptom)
3. Irritability (only after going into deep mania or deep depression...nothing's changed except it's gotten worse, but this doesn't happen all the time...linked with bipolar)
4. Mood swings, sudden tears. (no tears...again bipolar...controlled with medicine)
5. Trouble sleeping through the night (with or without night sweats) (no sweats...mania makes me sleep less, but otherwise, sleep pretty well)
6. Irregular periods: shorter, lighter or heavier periods, flooding, & phantom periods. (actually, gaining weight has caused me to begin having them again)
7. Loss of libido (sex drive). (this has increased, actually)
8. Dry vagina (results in painful intercourse)
9. Crashing fatigue. (didn't happen until I started taking meds)
10. Anxiety, feeling ill at ease(I also have generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder)
11. Feelings of dread, apprehension, & doom (includes thoughts of death, picturing one's own death).
12. Difficulty concentrating, disorientation, & mental confusion. (again, medicine related)
13. Disturbing memory lapses. (meds...and not actually LAPSES as in time, but just in trying to find choice words)
14. Incontinence, especially upon sneezing, laughing: urge incontinence (reflects a general loss of smooth muscle tone).
15. Itchy, crawly skin (feeling of ants crawling under the skin, not just dry, itchy skin). (This sounds like restless leg syndrome, which I developed after falling in a hole. Since I began taking pain meds, this feeling has ceased)
16. Aching, sore joints, muscles and tendons. (may include such problems as carpal tunnel syndrome).
17. Increased tension in muscles.
18. Breast tenderness.
19. Headache change: increase or decrease.
20. Gastrointestinal distress, indigestion, flatulence, gas pain, nausea (pain meds)
21. Sudden bouts of bloat.
22. Depression (has a quality from other depression, the inability to cope is overwhelming, there is a feeling of a loss of self. Hormone therapy. ameliorates the depression dramatically).(my depression presents itself as lack of emotion and lack of concern...nothing has changed and the last depression was when I was taking Zonegran)
23. Exacerbation of existing conditions.
24. Increase in allergies.
25. Weight gain. (is often around the waist and thighs, resulting in "the disappearing waistline" & changes in body shape.) (I'm being treated successfully for anorexia nervosa (I'm up to 95) with the weight is being distributed evenly...otherwise, I'd be very thin right now...but this symptom makes me want to go back to my old weight in preparation for menopaus, though. LOL! )
26. Hair loss or thinning, head or whole body, increase in facial hair. (actually, since I've been gaining weight, the fine face hair on my cheeks have disappeared)
27. Dizziness, light-headedness, episodes of loss of balance.(med symptoms...and dizziness is not an uncommon symptom for me. I have battlescars from passing out, dating back to my teen years)
28. Changes in body odor. (eeeewe! Ick! no! You mean it gets worse?)
29. Electric shock sensation under the skin & in the head ("take the feeling of a rubber band snapping against the skin, multiply it (exponentially, sometimes) radiate it & put it in the layer of tissues between skin & sometimees a precursor to a hot flash." (Ouch! You can't be serious!)
30. Tingling in the extremities (can also be a symptom of B-12 deficiency, diabetes, or from an alteration in the flexibility of blood vessels in the extremities.)
31. Gum problems, increased bleeding.
32. Burning tongue
33. Osteoporosis (after several years)
34. Brittle fingernails, which peel & break easily. (my nails are pretty strong)

Any of the symptoms I do have above have either always existed, or began the same time I started new meds or began gaining weight. I was a "late bloomer" when it came visits from Aunt Flo. She also left while my weight was down and recently returned, so the entire change in my system in that respect could be causing all this, also, whcih was something I failed to consider. However, my increase in weight came before I started meds, but after my mania worsened. My doctor wanted to treat the ED before starting the bipolar meds.

The more I type, the more I am convinced that my memory lapse is probably due to the medicine. I have increased the dose and today I did two weird things:

1. The phone rang and I picked it up, then after I hung up, I told the kids that it was a telemarketer since no one on the other end talked. My son said, "Uh, may have helped if you had said 'hello'" I just zoned out. He said I picked up the phone, breathed a couple of times without saying anything and then hung up. We all laughed over that since it was pretty funny, but inside I was saying to myself, "you idiot!" I do remember evrything, so it's not like I was "not there". I remember not saying hello.

2. My husband recently called from work and I zoned out again. He was talking, and I was in here reading the post above...but I wasn't really reading it. I was just looking at it. But then I hadn't even realized I was hanging up the phone until we did hang up.

None of this "zoning out" has happened before taking the Keppra. The increase in Keppra dosage and increase in zoning out frequency have been happening simultaneously.

I will say that even though I do zone out and forget some things, I am a lot calmer, now. I've been able to clean without yelling, even when something drops or spills. Usually my dog heads for his carrier when I put on my headphones and begin cleaning or when I pull out books or take the back off my computer...shut down the computer (which means I'm going to "fix" what's not broken...a mania thing). The dog knows that these things usually end up escellating into a huge screaming and throwing fit. He's like the canary in the coal mines. When the dog heads for the carrier, the family knows to stay out of my way.

But, lately I've been able to do these things without a forceful feeling of wanting to to everything with total strength and speed that ends up with me yelling. I have been able to keep calm. I don't think I've felt this way since I was a kid. I like my manias, but I really like being able to do things without screaming.
I'm not old. Honest. I'm just not creative AND original when it comes to registering a username.

Last edited by VeryOldLady; 12-02-2003 at 02:31 AM.

Old 07-13-2006, 06:38 PM   #9
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Port Arthur TX, USA
Posts: 2
Short Memory HB User
Thumbs down Re: Keppra side effects?

My name is Short Memory and I am writing to inform you that your description of Keppra is identical to my symptons. Please contact me as soon as possible. I have been on Keppra since 2003 and have gotten worse
since I started taking the medication. Because of you now I know I am not goinga crazy Hope you get your life together because I am surely trying to get mine together!!! I have had accidents driving my car and I didn't understand why I made the turns I made and I at the time was feeling real good. So I am telling you I was taking 3000 mg a day. This is all I have to say other than "PLEASE BE CAREFUL IN YOUR CAR!!!!Waiting to hear from you soon

Old 07-14-2006, 02:46 PM   #10
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 69
VeryOldLady HB User
Re: Keppra side effects?

This is an old post. I'm still "on Keppra", but I don't take it as often as I should. I just got out of the hospital after a 3 month stay, and my house is messy. Because Keppra makes me so tired and depressed (yet keeps me from passing out (or having seizures) and being manic), I can't clean while I'm on it. I hate the side effects and this was one if the issues I fought about the entire hospital stay.

They tell you that they can't legally force you to take any medicine in the hospital, yet they lay out consequences when I refused to take it. Whatever. LOL
I'm not old. Honest. I'm just not creative AND original when it comes to registering a username.

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