Well, I might as well weigh in here on what I know about anti-seizure medications considering one that was mentioned in the initial post is one my daughter has been on for 29 years. The medication is valproic acid. As she has grown we have increased the dose and now we only increase it when she has her menses. This is not unusual for adult epileptics. Looking at it strictly from an epilepsy point of view, it has been a very good drug for her. She has not experience any of the side effects listed. It is not the only medication she takes for seizure control, the other is lamotrigine (Lamictal). After many year being on valproic acid to make sure we didn't overdose my daughter on that drug, her neurologist recommended lamictal because she was experiencing a new form of seizure that she hadn't had before. Basically, my daughter has had every type of seizure and in combination with other seizures since she was born. Now at age 33, after trying many drugs, the first being Dilantin, which is the only medication that she has taken where she experienced just about every side effect possible. Gum growth is just one of the many that she experienced on that medication. It is my opinion and that of her doctors, that Dilantin set her back in development. The prescribing doctor at that time (the top pediatric specialist in our area), simply didn't notice and we were too young and dumb with her being our first child to realize. It was the general practitioner who finally figured out that she should be taken off that drug and we were referred to another specialist. Since then, I have made it my mission to make sure I know all I can about medication that every member of my family takes and my philosophy about doctors in general is, if I need a specialist, don't give me the number one doctor in the city. I want number two or three, because they tend to try harder and not sit back smugly telling young mothers that they know it all or at least act like they do. We didn't live in a large city at that time and boy what an attitude that doctor had! Lesson learned!
I know that sixpack suggested gong on Zoloft or Paxil and I do know that many have great results with these drugs, but because we are talking about alternatives here, as much as I like to support whatever medication works for an individual, is great by me...BUT I wouldn't be honest if I didn't mention what my neurologist told me about SSRIs. I was sent to him because my endocrinologist suspected I had Parkinson's. What a shock that was! She immediately offered to refer me to a neurologist and instead I went to my GP and got the referral through him. The neurologist took one look at me and even before I did any of the tests, said, "You definitely don't have Parkinson's but I believe you probably have essential tremor....what a relief!!!!! Essential tremor is nothing compared to Parkinson's. But the most interesting tidbit of information is that he immediately took me off Paxil and switched me to a beta blocker and clonazepam. He was so peeved that my GP had put me on an SSRI especially Paxil because he was sick and tired of being sent patients who developed essential tremor from SSRIs. Now I had essential tremor before I started on Paxil but what Paxil did was enhance it to the point that I looked like I had an extreme case of Parkinson's rather than the mild case of essential tremor that I had prior to the drug. I didn't know that it was essential tremor which I had been hiding from everyone for about 10 years because I was afraid that it was something serious and when it developed further and I didn't put two and two together, plus the endo thinking it was Parkinson's, well it sort of confirmed what I had suspected. What a relief to find out she was wrong.
My long winded point here is, there is no magic pill, but there is hope that you can find something that can help and none of us are exactly alike. Zoloft or Paxil could very well be the drugs for you. The fear of a long acting benzo may be a concern for some but a Godsend for others. It turned out I couldn't take the beta blocker which by the way is also great for some people who have anxiety, so all I was left with is the clonazepam (klonopin). That is the one medication that lets me walk, write, and talk without a tremor or a very slight one at worst and the bonus is it works really well for my anxiety disorder. So when you decide which medication you want to try and there are tonnes of choices out there, we have only touched on a few, take into consideration that there can be side effects to every drug but some are tolerable and others not or you may find that you don't have any side effects. All the drugs we have mentioned on this thread, one has to wean off if you decide it isn't for you. All of the drugs. So don't pick or dismiss a drug that could be the right choice for you based on whether you would be addicted to it because no matter what, weaning is a process for all these drugs and it has been my experience that the weaning process seriously sucks no matter what drug you are on. Some people breeze through it, others don't. I have a very good friend who slowly under her doctor's supervision weaned off of a benzo and she had no problem what so ever. I've known people who have done just as well going off SSRIs, but on the flip side, I had a rough time...Everyone is different. Do you homework, don't take just our word for what these meds are like, but go into whatever you decide with a positive attitude and I'm sure your will find something that will help alleviate the anxiety.