Can Topamax make you less intelligent?

Usual disclaimers apply–I’m seeing my neurologist on the 22nd. But I have a lot to think about before I see him.

I’m in a field (philosophy) where you need to be as sharp as you can be. And I’m not sure that I am, and I’m wondering if it’s because I’m on Topamax for my migraines. I have been working on a thorny section of a paper today that I want to submit for publication, and have found it very difficult to resolve the conceptual matters here. Part of it is because the subject matter is intrinsically hard, but I also feel as though I would have been able to see my way through this problem more easily before I was on Topamax (although it is impossible to verify this feeling or know if it is true).

I know that Topamax can cause cognitive side effects, but the ones usually mentioned are ones like “difficulty remembering words”, which is not a big problem for me. But I’m wondering if it can also harm your ability for abstract thought, or make your intelligence less sharp. I haven’t found much online; I’m wondering if any Dopers can help me out here. I’m enjoying not having headaches, but my livelihood is potentially being affected here.

ETA–I don’t think it’s a concentration problem; I can concentrate on the problem just fine. I just don’t see the solution as easily as I (feel that) I should.

It doesn’t make you less intelligent, but it can have the side effect of making you think a little more slowly. At least at first, until you you get used to it. I’ve been taking Topamax for migraines for about two years now and at first I felt a little fuzzy-minded, but after a few weeks it wore off.

Of course, YMMV, and if you are concerned you should talk to your doctor.


I’ve been taking Topamax for about 7 or 8 years, and I definitely noticed the word-searching problem when I first started it. I haven’t noticed it in a long time, though. I didn’t notice anything with abstract thought, concentration or any feeling of being ‘less sharp.’

There was one time a few months after I started taking it when I was trying to tell my mother about a meal I’d had, and could not for the life of me remember the word, ‘marsala.’
I was completely blank for a few seconds, and kept saying, “It was that chicken that I like so much. You know what I mean - with the mushrooms and wine sauce?”

I’ve had a lot of luck with Topamax. It cut down on the frequency and serverity of my migraines in an incredible way. I hope it works well for you, too.

I have no real info other then when my wife was on it she told said several times “There’s a reason they call it dopeamax”

TOPAMAXDoesn’t sound like the best drug for someone who needs all their faculties at maximum sharpness.

Topomax made it hard for me to concentrate the first time I was on it. That goes away after a bit, as does the tingling in the extremities and lips. Coke always tasted baad, though. It also interferred with my sleeping. Not horribly the first time I took it. When I went on it a few years later, I had a terrible reaction and couldn’t sleep at all. It was 12 days of absolutely no sleep before I got off and it cleared my system. It was a nightmare.


As with all prescription drugs, it has it good points and its bad points. For many people, as for BiblioCat, it does greatly reduce the occurence of migraine headaches, which otherwise are almost dibilitating in their severity. And it depends on what is meant by “needs all their faculties at maximum sharpness”. I’m a software engineer, so I need to think carefullly and logically at my job all day long. It was a little bit difficult for a couple of weeks but now I have no problem.

The point is that there’s always a balance and for me the balance came out in favor of this drug. But people are different as are their situations.