Side Effects of Gabapentin

Doctors may prescribe anticonvulsant medications such as gabapentin for other problems than epileptic seizures. While gabapentin primarily works to put such seizures under control, the medication also can work to reduce neurological pain, postherpetic neuralgia and peripheral neuropathy associated with diabetes, the Mayo Clinic reports from their website, MayoClinic.com. The generic name for this medication derives from gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that gabapentin acts upon.

Psychological Side Effects

Although adults may use gabapentin, some of the drug’s most common serious side effects occur more often in children, MayoClinic.com reports. Psychological side effects that may occur include behavioral problems, primarily a move toward aggression. Children may also experience anxiety and moods that change rapidly when taking gabapentin. They may develop difficulties with trust of other people and they may become suspicious of them. They also may develop problems with their concentration levels that cause drops in their performance at school. Euphoria may take them, or they may become depressed and cry a lot. Children also may overreact to situations or become more emotional than normal without provocation. MayoClinic.com recommends consulting a physician immediately for any of these side effects.

Body Movement Problems

The use of gabapentin may also cause the person, whether an adult or a child, to become unsteady and clumsy. The drug may impair the person’s sense of balance and coordination. It also may cause uncontrollable and continual eye movements, either of a rolling nature, or moving them back and forth. These, too, classify as serious common side effects of gabapentin, MayoClinic.com reports, and require immediate medical attention.

Vision Problems

Gabapentin may induce several types of side effects categorized as common and non-serious that begin when the person starts the drug, but generally recede and end on their own. Problems may develop temporarily with the person’s eyesight when taking gabapentin. Focusing difficulties may occur for a time, or the person may experience the medically termed diplopia, which consists of seeing double, overlapping images.

Pain

Because gabapentin functions in the brain to affect the way nerve impulses work, the person may feel an attendant pain in his lower back when he first uses the drug. The pain should appear as a minor problem, but he should seek medical aid if it feels severe or continues more than a day or two, Drugs.com indicates.

Stomach Upset

Gabapentin may cause temporary disruptions of the digestive system upon first use, Drugs.com reports. It may create such problems as side effects as nausea and vomiting. It also may induce diarrhea or constipation. The person also may gain weight temporarily at the outset of gabapentin use.

About this Author

Carole Anne Tomlinson has been a registered nurse working in a variety of medical environments for more than 25 years. She now serves as the nursing supervisor for a chemical dependency facility. She has also written numerous articles for a variety of websites.