What Are the Different Kinds of Seizures?                

Doctors have described more than 30 different types of seizures. Seizures are divided into two major categories -- focal seizures and generalized seizures. However, there are many different types of seizures in each of these categories

Generalized Seizures

Generalized seizures are a result of abnormal neuronal activity on both sides of the brain. These seizures may cause loss of consciousness, falls, or massive muscle spasms.

There are many kinds of generalized seizures. In absence seizures, the person may appear to be staring into space and/or have jerking or twitching muscles. These seizures are sometimes referred to as petit mal seizures, which is an older term. Tonic seizures cause stiffening of muscles of the body, generally those in the back, legs, and arms. Clonic seizures cause repeated jerking movements of muscles on both sides of the body. Myoclonic seizures cause jerks or twitches of the upper body, arms, or legs. Atonic seizures cause a loss of normal muscle tone. The affected person will fall down or may drop his or her head involuntarily. Tonic-clonic seizures cause a mixture of symptoms, including stiffening of the body and repeated jerks of the arms and/or legs as well as loss of consciousness. Tonic-clonic seizures are sometimes referred to by an older term: grand mal seizures

.Not all seizures can be easily defined as either focal or generalized. Some people have seizures that begin as focal seizures but then spread to the entire brain. Other people may have both types of seizures but with no clear pattern.

Society's lack of understanding about the many different types of seizures is one of the biggest problems for people with epilepsy. People who witness a non-convulsive seizure often find it difficult to understand that behavior which looks deliberate is not under the person's control. In some cases, this has led to the affected person being arrested or admitted to a psychiatric hospital. To combat these problems, people everywhere need to understand the many different types of seizures and how they may appear.


What Are the Different Kinds of Epilepsy?

Just as there are many different kinds of seizures, there are many different kinds of epilepsy. Doctors have identified hundreds of different epilepsy syndromes -- disorders characterized by a specific set of symptoms that include epilepsy. Some of these syndromes appear to be hereditary. For other syndromes, the cause is unknown. Epilepsy syndromes are frequently described by their symptoms or by where in the brain they originate. People should discuss the implications of their type of epilepsy with their doctors to understand the full range of symptoms, the possible treatments, and the prognosis.



People with absence epilepsy have repeated absence seizures that cause momentary lapses of consciousness. These seizures almost always begin in childhood or adolescence, and they tend to run in families, suggesting that they may be at least partially due to a defective gene or genes. Some people with absence seizures have purposeless movements during their seizures, such as a jerking arm or rapidly blinking eyes. Others have no noticeable symptoms except for brief times when they are "out of it." Immediately after a seizure, the person can resume whatever he or she was doing. However, these seizures may occur so frequently that the person cannot concentrate in school or other situations. Childhood absence epilepsy usually stops when the child reaches puberty. Absence seizures usually have no lasting effect on intelligence or other brain functions.


Temporal lobe epilepsy, or TLE, is the most common epilepsy syndrome with focal seizures. These seizures are often associated with auras. TLE often begins in childhood. Research has shown that repeated temporal lobe seizures can cause a brain structure called the hippocampus to shrink over time. The hippocampus is important for memory and learning. While it may take years of temporal lobe seizures for measurable hippocampal damage to occur, this finding underlines the need to treat TLE early and as effectively as possible.


Neocortical epilepsy is characterized by seizures that originate from the brain's cortex, or outer layer. The seizures can be either focal or generalized. They may include strange sensations, visual hallucinations, emotional changes, muscle spasms, convulsions, and a variety of other symptoms, depending on where in the brain the seizures originate.


Epilepsy syndromes:

Epilepsy syndromes that are easily treated, do not seem to impair cognitive functions or development, and usually stop spontaneously are often described as benign. Benign epilepsy syndromes include benign infantile encephalopathy and benign neonatal convulsions. Other syndromes, such as early myoclonic encephalopathy, include neurological and developmental problems. However, these problems may be caused by underlying neurodegenerative processes rather than by the seizures. Epilepsy syndromes in which the seizures and/or the person's cognitive abilities get worse over time are called progressive epilepsy.


Tonic clonic and clonic seizures

How to help during the seizure:

  • try to stay calm

  • check the time to see how long the seizure lasts (because there may be a risk of status epilepticus - see below)

  • only move the person if they are in a dangerous place, for example in the road. Instead, move any objects (such as furniture) away from them so that they don't hurt themselves

  • put something soft (such as a jumper) under their head, or cup their head in your hands, to stop it hitting the ground

  • do not hold them down - allow the seizure to happen

  • do not put anything in their mouth - they will not swallow their tongue

  • try to stop other people crowding around.


Partial seizures may be further subdivided into both simple and complex seizures. This refers to the effect of such a seizure on consciousness; simple seizures cause no interruption to consciousness (although they may cause sensory distortions or other sensations), whereas complex seizures interrupt consciousness to varying degrees. This does not necessarily mean that the person experiencing this sort of seizure will lose consciousness (like fainting). For example, a complex partial seizure may involve the unconscious repetition of simple actions, gestures or verbal utterances, or simply a blank stare and apparent unawareness of the occurrence of the seizure, followed by no memory of the seizure. Other patients may report a feeling of tunnel vision or dissociation, which represents a diminished awareness without full loss of consciousness. Still other patients can perform complicated actions, such as travel or shopping, while in the midst of a complex partial seizure.

The effects of partial seizures can be quite dependent on the area of the brain in which they are active. For example, a partial seizure in areas involved in perception may cause a particular sensory experience (for example, the perception of a scent, music or flashes of light) whereas, when centered in the motor cortex, a partial seizure might cause movement in particular groups of muscles. This type of seizure may also produce particular thoughts or internal visual images or even experiences which may be distinct but not easily described. Seizures affecting the anterior insular cortex may produce brief mystical or ecstatic experiences in some people; these are known as ecstatic seizures. They may result in a misdiagnosis of psychosis or schizophrenia, if other symptoms of seizure are disregarded and other tests are not performed. Unfortunately for those with epilepsy, anti-psychotic medications prescribed without anticonvulsants in this case can actually lower the seizure threshold further and worsen the symptoms.

When the effects of a partial seizure appear as a 'warning sign' before a larger seizure, they are known as an aura: frequently, a partial seizure will spread to other parts of the brain and eventually become generalized, resulting in a tonic-clonic convulsion. The subjective experience of an aura, like other partial seizures, will tend to reflect the function of the affected part of the brain.

Status epilepticus refers to continuous seizure activity with no recovery between successive seizures. A tonic-clonic seizure lasting longer than 5 minutes (or two minutes longer than a given person's usual seizures) is considered a medical emergency. Benzodiazepines are most commonly used to relieve the seizure activity.

Epilepsia partialis continua is a rare type of focal motor seizure (hands and face) which recurs every few seconds or minutes for extended periods (days or years). It is usually due to strokes in adults and focal cortical inflammatory processes in children (Rasmussen's encephalitis), possibly caused by chronic viral infections or autoimmune processes.

Generalized seizures

Tonic-clonic seizures (includes variations beginning with a clonic or myoclonic phase)

Clonic seizures (with and without tonic features)

Typical absence seizures

Atypical absence seizures

Myoclonic absence seizures

Tonic seizures


Myoclonic seizures

Massive bilateral myoclonus

Eyelid myoclonia (with and without absences)

Myoclonic atonic seizures

Negative myoclonus

Atonic seizures

Reflex seizures in generalized epilepsy syndromes

Seizures of the posterior neocortex

Neocortical temporal lobe seizures




There are many types of seizures, depending primarily on what part of the brain is involved. The term epilepsy says nothing about the type of seizure or cause of the seizure, only that  The seizures happen again and again. A stricter definition of the term requires that the seizures have no known underlying cause. This may also be called primary or idiopathic epilepsy.

  • Episodes of abnormal electrical activity within the brain result in seizures.

  • The specific area of the brain affected by the abnormal electrical activity may result in a particular type of seizure.

  • If all areas of the brain are affected by the abnormal electrical activity, a generalized seizure may result. This means that consciousness is lost or impaired. Often all the person's arms and legs stiffen and then jerk rhythmically.

  • One seizure type may evolve into another during the course of the seizure. For example, a seizure may start as a partial, or focal, seizure, involving the face or arm. Then the muscular activity spreads to other areas of the body. In this way, the seizure becomes generalized.

  • Seizures caused by high fevers in children are not considered epilepsy.



What is reflex epilepsy? Is this related to triggers?


Some people may notice that their seizures occur in response to very specific stimuli or situations, as if the seizure is a 'reflex'. There is a type of epilepsy called 'reflex epilepsy' – in this type, seizures occur consistently in relation to a specific trigger.

  • For example, one type of reflex epilepsy is photosensitive epilepsy where seizures are triggered specifically by flashing lights.

  • Other types of reflex epilepsies may be seizures triggered by the act of reading or by noises.

  • These reflex epilepsies are not common, but knowing if you have this form of epilepsy will help you learn how to manage them!




Epilepsy Causes


Healthy people may have seizures under certain circumstances. If the seizures have a known cause, the condition is referred to as secondary or symptomatic epilepsy. Some of the more common causes include the following:

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP)

For some people living with epilepsy, the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) is an important concern. SUDEP refers to deaths in people with epilepsy that are not caused by injury, drowning, or other known causes. Studies suggest that each year there are about 1.16 cases of SUDEP for every 1,000 people with epilepsy, although estimates vary.

Most, but not all, cases of SUDEP occur during or immediately after a seizure. The exact cause is not known, but these are possible factors:

  • Breathing. A seizure may cause a person to have pauses in breathing (apnea). If these pauses last too long, they can reduce the oxygen in the blood to a life-threatening level. In addition, during a convulsive seizure a person’s airway sometimes may get covered or obstructed, leading to suffocation.

  • Heart rhythm. Rarely, a seizure may cause a dangerous heart rhythm or even heart failure.

  • Other causes and mixed causes. SUDEP may result from more than one cause or a combination involving both breathing difficulty and abnormal heart rhythm.




Epilepsy cannot  be cured, but medication can control seizures effectively in about 70% of cases


A ketogenic diet (high-fatlow-carbohydrate, adequate-protein) appears to decrease the number of seizures and eliminate seizures in some, however further research is necessary. It is a reasonable option in those who have epilepsy that is not improved with medications and for whom surgery is not an option



Epilepsy surgery may be an option for people with focal seizures that remain a problem despite other treatments. These other treatments include at least a trial of two or three medications. The goal of surgery is total control of seizures and this may be achieved in 60–70% of cases. Common procedures include cutting out the hippocampus via an anterior temporal lobe resection, removal of tumors, and removing parts of the neocortex. Some procedures such as a corpus callosotomy are attempted in an effort to decrease the number of seizures rather than cure the condition. Following surgery, medications may be slowly withdrawn in many cases.

Neurostimulation may be another option in those who are not candidates for surgery. Three types have been shown to be effective in those who do not respond to medications: vagus nerve stimulationanterior thalamic stimulation, and closed-loop responsive stimulation.



The mainstay treatment of epilepsy is anticonvulsant medications, possibly for the person's entire life. The choice of anticonvulsant is based on seizure type, epilepsy syndrome, other medications used, other health problems, and the person's age and lifestyle. A single medication is recommended initially; if this is not effective, switching to a single other medication is recommended. Two medications at once is recommended only if a single medication does not work. In about half, the first agent is effective; a second single agent helps in about 13% and a third or two agents at the same time may help an additional 4%. About 30% of people continue to have seizures despite anticonvulsant treatment



CBD may be of value in treating epilepsy

Epileptic seizure

is a brief episode of signs or symptoms due to abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain. The outward effect can vary from uncontrolled jerking movement (tonic-clonic seizure) to as subtle as a momentary loss of awareness (absence seizure). Diseases of the brain characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures are collectively called epilepsy.



Generalized seizures: All areas of the brain (the cortex) are involved in a generalized seizure. Sometimes these are referred to as grand mal seizures.

  • To the observer, the person experiencing such a seizure may cry out or make some sound, stiffen for some seconds, then have rhythmic movements of the arms and legs. Often the rhythmic movements slow before stopping.

  • Eyes are generally open.

  • The person may not appear to be breathing. The person is often breathing deeply after an episode.

  • The return to consciousness is gradual and should occur within a few moments.

  • Loss of urine is common.

  • Often people will be confused briefly after a generalized seizure



Partial or focal seizures: Only part of the brain is involved, so only part of the body is affected. Depending on the part of the brain having abnormal electrical activity, symptoms may vary.

  • If the part of the brain controlling movement of the hand is involved, for example, then perhaps only the hand may show rhythmic movements or jerking.

  • If other areas of the brain are involved, symptoms might include strange sensations or small repetitive movements such as picking at clothes or lip smacking.

  • Sometimes the person with a partial seizure appears dazed or confused. This may represent a partial complex seizure. The term "complex" is used by doctors to describe a person who is between being fully alert and unconscious.

Seizures can also occur in people who do not have epilepsy for various reasons including brain trauma, drug use, elevated body temperature, low blood sugar and low levels of oxygen. Additionally, there are a number of conditions that look like epileptic seizures but are not.

A seizure can last from a few seconds to more than five minutes, at which point it is known as status epilepticus. Most tonic-clonic seizures last less than two or three minutes. Absence seizures are usually around 10 seconds in duration.


After the active portion of a seizure, there is typically a period of confusion called the postictal period before a normal   consciousness returns. This usually lasts 3 to 15 minutes but may last for hours. Other common symptoms include: feeling tired, headache, difficulty speaking, and abnormal behavior. Psychosis after a seizure is relatively common, occurring in between 6 and 10% of people. Often people do not remember what occurred during this time



Absence or petit mal seizures: These are most common in childhood.

  • Impairment of consciousness is present with the person often staring blankly.

  • Repetitive blinking or other small movements may be present.

  • Typically, these seizures are brief, lasting only seconds. Some people may have many of these in a day.

  • Other seizure types exist particularly in very small children.



When to Seek Medical Care for Epilepsy


A first seizure is a reason to visit your doctor or a hospital's emergency department. For someone with a diagnosed seizure disorder, a change in seizure patterns or more frequent seizures are reasons to see the doctor.

Visits to a hospital's emergency department are not needed for everyone with a seizure. Some seizures are emergencies, as in the following cases when 911 should be called:

  • A seizure that continues for more than 5 minutes

  • Breathing difficulty

  • Persistent confusion or unconsciousness

  • Injuries sustained during a seizure

  • A first seizure

  • Another seizure follows right after

Different causes of seizures are common in certain age groups.

  • Seizures in babies are most commonly caused by hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, central nervous system (CNS) infections, trauma, congenital CNS abnormalities, and metabolic disorders.

  • The most frequent cause of seizures in children is febrile seizures, which happen in 2–5% of children between the ages of six months and five years.

  • During childhood, well-defined epilepsy syndromes are generally seen.

  • In adolescence and young adulthood, non-compliance with the medication regimen and sleep deprivation are potential triggers.

  • Pregnancy and labor and childbirth, and the post-partum, or post-natal period (after birth) can be at-risk times, especially if there are certain complications like pre-eclampsia.

  • During adulthood, the likely causes are alcohol related, strokes, trauma, CNS infections, and brain tumors.

  • In older adults, cerebrovascular disease is a very common cause. Other causes are CNS tumors, head trauma, and other degenerative diseases that are common in the older age group, such as dementia



Stress can induce seizures in people with epilepsy, and is a risk factor for developing epilepsy. Severity, duration, and time at which stress occurs during development all contribute to frequency and susceptibility to developing epilepsy. It is one of the most frequently self-reported triggers in patients with epilepsy

Stress exposure results in hormone release that mediates its effects in the brain. These hormones act on both excitatory and inhibitory neural synapses, resulting in hyper-excitability of neurons in the brain. The hippocampus is known to be a region that is highly sensitive to stress and prone to seizures. This is where mediators of stress interact with their target receptors to produce effects


An EEG is only recommended in those who likely had an epileptic seizure and may help determine the type of seizure or syndrome present. In children it is typically only needed after a second seizure. It cannot be used to rule out the diagnosis and may be falsely positive in those without the disease. In certain situations it may be useful to prefer the EEG while sleeping or sleep deprived

Diagnostic imaging by CT scan and MRI is recommended after a first non-febrile seizure to detect structural problems inside the brain. MRI is generally a better imaging test except when intracranial bleeding is suspected

Differential diagnosis

Differentiating an epileptic seizure from other conditions such as syncope can be difficult. Other possible conditions that can mimic a seizure include: decerebrate posturingpsychogenic seizurestetanusdystoniamigraine headaches, and strychnine poisoning. In addition, 5% of people with a positive tilt table test may have seizure-like activity that seems to be due to cerebral hypoxia. Convulsions may occur due to psychological reasons and this is known as a psychogenic non-epileptic seizureNon-epileptic seizures may also occur due to a number of other reasons


What is true intractable or refractory epilepsy?

True intractable epilepsy is like a bar across the front door. Difficulty controlling seizures can result from not tolerating seizure medications or seizures not responding to the medicines. The “bar across the door” is keeping the medicine from working right to control seizures without side effects.

  • All medications have potential side effects, but some people experience them more often than others, or the side effects are more bothersome. Sometimes people develop allergies to medicines or just can’t tolerate non- allergy side effects. People who are very sensitive to seizure medicines are less likely to find one that they can tolerate and that will work! Seizures that might be easy to treat with medicine become hard to treat when the best medicines are off-limits. Some people with multiple drug resistance have a type of metabolism that quickly inactivates or isolates drugs, causing them to be less effective. When this happens, exploring other treatments like surgery may be helpful.

  • Another common problem is reaching a “honeymoon” state or as it is officially known, developing medication “tolerance.” In this situation, a new drug works for a few months and then seizures return. The cycle repeats with each new medication. Such patients can end up on a stressful “rotation diet” of different medicines. It is another form of drug resistance.

When seizures persist after at least two good trials of the proper drugs at the right dose, a person would be considered to have intractable or drug resistant epilepsy.


What does uncontrolled or refractory seizures mean?

Seizures sometimes are not controlled with seizure medications. A number of different terms may be used to describe these including: “uncontrolled,” “intractable,” “refractory,” or “drug resistant.” How often does this happen?

  • Studies suggest that epilepsy fails to come quickly under control with medicines in about one-third of cases, but the true frequency depends upon the definition of uncontrolled.

  • Most epilepsy specialists agree that refractory epilepsy is epilepsy for which seizures are frequent and severe enough, or the required therapy for them troublesome enough, to seriously interfere with quality of life.

  • However, in more recent years, the epilepsy community has recognized the need to continue striving for "no seizures" and the best control possible.

  • The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) has proposed the following definition of drug resistant epilepsy and suggests that this term be used instead of the term 'refractory epilepsy'.

    • Drug resistant epilepsy occurs when a person has failed to become (and stay) seizure free with adequate trials of two seizure medications (called AEDs).

    • These seizure medications must have been chosen appropriately for the person’s seizure type, tolerated by the person, and tried alone or together with other seizure medications.

  • Why is it important to have a Seizure Response Plan?

  • You and your family play in central role in your seizure management.

  • Your success in managing epilepsy will depend on being prepared to tackle whatever comes your way – from understanding your epilepsy and maintaining seizure control to responding to seizures and managing your safety.

  • Seizure Response Plans can help you organize your seizure information and have it available when and where you need it. A prepared plan can help you know what to do to prevent an emergency or tell others what to do in emergency situations. You can also adapt these plans to different situations in your life.

  • By helping you be prepared, seizures or the fear of seizures won’t prevent you from participating and enjoying your life to the fullest.

Another reason for uncontrolled seizures is poor or less than optimal treatment. In other words, the ‘wrong key’ is being used to unlock the door! Common reasons for suboptimal treatment are listed below.

Reasons For Suboptimal Treatment Of Seizures

  • Using the wrong medication

  • Inadequate doses of medicine

  • Polypharmacy and toxicity

  • Missing doses (poor compliance)

  • Complicating factors (illness, sleep deprivations, extreme stress)

Using the wrong medication. Many seizure medications have useful actions against a number of different seizure types. But some medicines are not right for certain types of seizures. Carbamazepine (Tegretol), for example is usually good for treating complex partial seizures, but not absence seizures. Ethosuximide(Zarontin) is good for absence, but not complex partial seizures. Since absence and complex partial seizures can occasionally be confused with each other, there is a chance for using the wrong medicine.

Inadequate or incorrect doses of medicine. People vary widely in their response to seizure medicines. Every medicine has a suggested dosage range, but that range is too high for some and too low for others. If a dose that is too high for an individual is used, a person will have too many side effects. A dose that is too low may lead to seizures.

  • Some people with uncontrolled seizures may become seizure free when the medication daily dosages are increased.

  • Others may do better on low doses of AEDs, which leads to less medication side effects.

  • Measuring blood levels of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) sometimes helps to guide therapy, but levels are not as important as carefully asking about side effects and seizure control. The newer seizure medicines often have fewer side effects than the older seizure medicines.

  • Information about seizure medicines can be found here on epilepsy.com

Polypharmacy and toxicity. Polypharmacy is the use of several medications at once to treat the same condition. Some people require more than one drug to control their epilepsy, but additional medications rarely lead to complete freedom from seizures.

  • Two important studies, one by Mattson and colleagues and the other by Kwan and Brodie suggest that if a person is not seizure-free on a good dosage of a single AED, then adding a second will make them seizure-free only about 10% of the time. The second drug may help, but not usually to the point of complete control. Two drugs have more side effects than does one drug, and three drugs more than two.

  • Patients taking polypharmacy may have so many side effects that it is often difficult for someone to tolerate a higher dose for any of their AEDs.

  • Also, polypharmacy can lead to drug interactions that limit how well the drug may work or increases side effects of another drug.

  • One way to treat refractory seizures in people taking many medications is to streamline or simplify the medicines. Sometimes “less can be more,” especially if it lowers overall levels of side effects and allows an increase in the drug that is most effective. Making these changes can be hard, with a period of seizures and side effects during the changes, until the new and improved regimen is established.

Missing doses (poor adherence or compliance). Missing medication is a cause of breakthrough seizures. Almost everyone forgets to take pills, especially if the pill schedule is complicated. In the medical field, this is called "poor compliance." Learn about the importance of adherence and ways to make taking medications easier (hyperlink to importance of compliance adherence) It can make a real difference!

Complicating factors (illness, sleep deprivations, extreme stress). Complicating or precipitating factors for seizures can make them more difficult to control. These again vary with the individual. Triggers may include alcohol, exercise, flashing lights or certain patterns, general illness, heavy breathing (hyperventilation), lowering dose of medicines, taking certain medications, the menstrual cycle, missing medications, missing sleep, recreational drugs, and stress. All too often, a seizure breakthrough is preceded by one of these, or other personally relevant, factors.

What Are Some Dangerous After-Effects of Seizures?

Some other dangerous after-effects of seizures include falling or drowning due to the intensity of the seizure, states Mayo Clinic. People who go swimming or bathe while they have a seizure are more likely to drown due to loss of consciousness. Similarly, people who drive cars or operate heavy machinery are at a greater risk of injury during seizures. Some states restrict those who have epilepsy from driving a car in order to prevent car accidents. Some people who have seizures fall from a standing position, or from a great height, which causes head injuries, bone fractures or joint dislocations in some cases.


Most people don’t understand how serious seizures can be. They either think that seizures are not a problem or that everyone may die from them. The truth lies somewhere in between. The types of problems people may have range from injuries, the effect of repeated seizures on the brain, seizure emergencies, and death.

This is a scary topic to read and talk about. But it’s important to know the facts so you know what questions to ask your doctor and health care team. Also, knowing your risks, or those of your loved ones, may help you learn what to do to lessen these risks!

Clusters of seizures cause breathing problems for some people who have epilepsy, notes the Epilepsy Foundation. If someone's air passage is blocked due to constant convulsions, or if they vomit during a seizure, they are likely to die of suffocation unless their air passages are cleared.


People who have seizures need to avoid mountain climbing or other extreme sports that require concentration, suggests the Epilepsy Foundation. One way to prevent dangerous complications from seizures is to exercise with a partner and wear a helmet while riding a bike.



What Are the Warning Signs Before a Seizure?

Potential warning signs of a seizure include confusion, feeling spacey, falling, jerking movements and memory lapses, explains the Epilepsy Foundation. A person about to have a seizure may also experience daydreaming episodes, unusual tastes or smells, headaches, loss of bodily functions, or sensations of tingling or numbness. People who have seizures sometimes report having indescribable or very unusual feelings, such as feelings that their bodies look strange or that they are having out-of-body experiences

Some patients are able to identify triggers for their seizures, notes the Epilepsy Foundation. Being aware of these triggers makes it easier for both the patients and those close to them to recognize when a seizure may be about to strike. Some common triggers include flashing lights, a particular time of day, low blood sugar, fevers and sleep deprivation. Women are sometimes more prone to seizures during a particular part of their menstrual cycles.

Some patients have reflex seizures, in which a specific trigger always causes a seizure, describes the Epilepsy Foundation. Others notice that certain triggers make their seizures more likely or only affect them during high-risk times, such as when they are sick or under a great deal of stress. When patients notice they are having warning symptoms of a seizure, they should inform others of what is happening and go to a safe place, if possible.

Can Dogs Have Seizures?

Seizures are the most common neurological condition for dogs. A dog having a grand mal seizure typically falls to its side while the muscles contract erratically

People should not move or touch a dog having a seizure when it is safely on the ground in a clear area. It is helpful to record the length of time of the seizure for the veterinarian's information.

There are many causes of seizures in dogs. A veterinarian can rule out any underlying issues and prescribe medicine to either eliminate or limit the seizures.

Any seizure that lasts for more than five minutes is considered an emergency and the dog needs to see a veterinarian immediately. Failure to do so can risk permanent brain damage or death.


Depression is a common problem, affecting an estimated one in three people with epilepsy at some point in their lifetimes. Be sure to watch for symptoms of clinical depression and/or anxiety in yourself or your child with epilepsy, and talk to your doctor as soon as possible if you think there's a problem. Treatment can help and improve your quality of life tremendously. It may also be helpful to keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts can help you sort out your feelings.

Epilepsy can be a bumpy journey, and it's important that you have a doctor you're comfortable with and who understands the emotional highs and lows you'll experience. If you can't say that about yours, it might be time to find a new one. You are likely going to see this person quite often for the foreseeable future, so make sure it's someone you can trust and openly communicate with. Being able to discuss your concerns and progress with your doctor will help you both in finding the best treatment for your epilepsy and leave you feeling more confident.