Epilepsy Talk

Updated — 40+ different types of seizures | November 2, 2013

When I was first diagnosed with epilepsy, there were two kinds of seizures. Grand Mal and Petit Mal. (Can you guess how old I am?)

Now, things are much more different and difficult. No more cut and dried.

So, please, if you have any additions, subtractions or corrections, feel free to chime in.

Because I don’t pretend to be an expert. In fact, this has certainly been a learning experience, from start to finish.

Here, to the best of my knowledge, are the 40+ different types of seizures.

1. Absence Seizure (“Petit Mal”)

Absence seizures account for 2-4 percent of epilepsy. They are characterized by brief episodes of staring, usually lasting only 2-10 seconds and may happen repeatedly during the day. There is no warning before a seizure and the person is completely alert afterwards, with no memory of it. Because they are so mild, you might not even realize you had one and it’s easily not noticed by those around you.

2. Aicardi Syndrome

A rare inherited (genetic) disorder in which the structure that connects the two sides of the brain (corpus callosum) is partly or completely missing.

3. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (Micropsia)

Children with Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (or AIWS) feel that their body is changing, because of migraines and headaches. They don’t just see themselves changing in size, though, but they also see other people, animals and objects look larger or smaller than they actually are. They can also feel that their hearing and sense of touch have changed. Like what happens to Alice in the beginning of the book, some people with epilepsy who also have AIWS can feel like they are falling down a hole…

Children are the most affected by Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. Most of the effects occur in the dark, where they feel the most scared. Oddly enough, some cough syrup ingredients might cause AIWS.. Other causes for AIWS in children are Epstein-Barr virus and Mononucleosis (or Mono for short). Most times, the symptom will last for only one month. And although it’s unlikely, adults are able to get Alice in Wonderland Syndrome as well.

4. Atonic Seizures (Drop Attacks)

Without warning, a person will abruptly loses consciousness, collapse and fall to the floor. Your head may drop suddenly, your eyelids may droop, your head may nod, and you may drop things. This is caused by sudden loss of muscle tone. Although it’s not usually associated with loss of consciousness and There is no convulsion, it’s possible to bang your head as you fall. Recovery occurs after a few seconds. You regain consciousness, and can again stand and walk.

5. Atypical Absence Seizures

The person will stare (as they would in any absence seizure) but often is somewhat responsive. You may experience eye blinking or slight jerking movements of the lips.

6. Autonomic Seizures

These seizures are accompanied by autonomic symptoms or signs, such as abdominal discomfort or nausea which may rise into the throat (epigastric rising), stomach pain, the rumbling sounds of gas moving in the intestines belching, flatulence and vomiting. This has sometimes been referred to as abdominal epilepsy. Other symptoms may include pallor, flushing, sweating, hair standing on end, dilation of the pupils, alterations in heart rate and respiration, and urination. A few people may experience sexual arousal, penile erection, and orgasm.

7. Benign Rolandic Epilepsy (Sylvan Seizures or Benign Partial Epilepsy of Children)

Accounts for more than one third of epilepsy beginning in middle childhood between ages 3 and 13. Seizures usually occur infrequently in children, as generalized nocturnal seizures characterized by a variety of minor tonic-clonic movements and often affect only one side of the face. A typical attack involves twitching, numbness, or tingling of the child’s face or tongue (a partial seizure), which often interferes with speech and may cause drooling There’s a jerking of the corner of the mouth that may spread to the rest of that side of the face, causing a twisting motion. The child usually does not lose consciousness, except in cases of secondarily generalized seizures of this type. In rare cases, the seizure may progress to encompass the entire side of the body, becoming a generalized tonic-clonic condition. Seizures typically occur at night and these children are otherwise normal and healthy. The prognosis is favorable with 95% of children outgrowing their seizures by age 15.

8. Catamenial Seizures

This is seizure activity associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. Studies have shown that fluctuations in female hormones prior to and during menstruation may elevate seizure frequency in some women. In a small percentage of women, catamenial seizures may occur only during the days just before their periods; for others, during the period itself. Higher ratios of estrogen to progesterone may increase seizure frequency. Water retention, electrolyte imbalance, and even poor sleep are also contributing causes.

The connection between menstruation and seizures has been demonstrated in women with simple partial, complex partial, and generalized tonic-clonic seizures. However, different types of seizures may be associated with different phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. For example, a women with absence seizures may have more seizures during days 16 to 28 of her average cycle and may have the least during her period. A women with partial seizures, on the other hand, tends to have fewer seizures during days 16 to 28 and more just prior to ovulation and during menstruation.

9. Clonic Seizures

During a clonic seizure, you may lose control of bodily functions and begin jerking rhythmically in various parts of your body. Consciousness may be temporarily lost and followed by confusion. Clonic seizures begin in early childhood. With time, clonic seizures may eventually progress to generalized tonic-clonic seizures.

10. Complex Partial Seizures (Psychomotor or Temporal Lobe Seizures)

Begins with a blank look or empty stare. You may be unaware of your surroundings and seem dazed and confused. The seizure may progress to include chewing movements, mumbling, uncoordinated activity, or sometimes performing meaningless bits of behavior which appear random and clumsy. These may include picking at your clothes, trying to remove them, walking about aimlessly, picking up things, or mumbling. Someone experiencing a complex partial seizure may become frightened and try to run and struggle. Following the seizure, there will be no memory of it. A complex partial seizure usually lasts about 2 to 4 minutes. It may be followed by a longer lasting confusion. Once the pattern of seizures is established, it will usually be repeated with each subsequent seizure.

11. Dravet Syndrome — Severe Myoclonic Epilepsy of Infancy

(SMEI), is a severe form of epilepsy. It appears during the first year of life with frequent febrile seizures – fever-related seizures that, by definition, are rare beyond age 5.

Later, other types of seizures typically arise, including myoclonus (involuntary muscle spasms). Status epilepticus – a state of continuous seizure requiring emergency medical care – also may occur.

Children with Dravet syndrome typically experience poor development of language and motor skills, hyperactivity, and difficulty relating to others.
In 30 to 80 percent of cases, Dravet syndrome is caused by defects in a gene required for the proper function of brain cells.

12. Eclampsia

Convulsions are the other most common feature of this syndrome. Convulsions are usually generalized tonic-clonic in nature. Usually a brief single seizure occurs. Multiple seizures can also occur and status epilepticus is rare. Partial seizures or complex partial seizures can also occur. The seizures can occur prepartum, intrapartum, or postpartum. If the seizure occurs postpartum, it usually occurs within the first 24 hours after delivery, however, late postpartum eclamptic convulsions are by no means rare and have been reported as late as 23 days postpartum.

13. Ecstatic Seizures

Also called Dostoyevsky’s Epilepsy, are a type of seizure activity that is characterized by feelings of ecstasy or transcendent joy. Mystical, spiritual, and hallucinatory experiences often occur as well. The temporal lobe is effected by the seizure activity and provides a neural basis for these experiences. These seizures can involve more than one seizure symptom, such as tonic-clonic, tonic & more.

14. Febrile Seizures

Children aged 3 months to 5 years may have febrile seizures when they have a high fever. This occurs in only 2% to 5% of all children. A febrile seizure is usually mild and brief, often resulting in a slight slumping and loss of consciousness, or a rolling of the eyes back in the head. Sometimes there may be convulsive stiffening and jerking, but there is no need to panic. Protect the child from sharp, hot, or otherwise dangerous objects. Loosen tight clothing. Do not put anything in the child’s mouth. Do not restrict his/her movements. Roll the child on his/her side and try to keep everyone relaxed.

There are 2 types of febrile seizures: simple and complex. Simple febrile seizures are more common and relatively harmless. They usually last less than 15 minutes and have no after-effects. A neurological examination following a simple seizure will yield no abnormalities.

15. Complex Febrile Sizures

May be more threatening. They can last longer than 15 minutes and although only one side of the body is affected during a complex febrile seizure, neurological reports may indicate abnormalities.

In both cases, febrile seizures pose no threat of mental retardation, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, or death. Only 25-30% of children who experience one will ever have another. And the incidence of febrile seizures does not indicate a possibility of developing long-term epilepsy. Less than 2% of children who experience febrile seizures will develop epilepsy later in life. Febrile seizures are classed as incidents rather than as a condition.

16. Focal Cortical Dysplasia

This is the most common cause of intractable epilepsy in children and is a frequent cause of epilepsy in adults. All forms of focal cortical dysplasia lead to disorganization of the normal structure of the cerebral cortex.

17. Frontal Lobe Epilepsy

May produce weakness or inability to use certain muscles, including those that govern speech. Frontal lobe seizures may involve thrashing movements during sleep, also stiffening with the head turned to one side and the arm rising into a brief frozen state. Some seizures may be dramatic and upsetting to others, with screaming, bicycling movements of the legs, running. Treatment is with medication, and, in some cases, surgery.

18. Gelastic Seizures

These seizures are both unpredictable and unprovoked by the person’s surroundings. They are abrupt in onset and quickly over. They may occur nocturnally, waking you from sleep and leaving you exhausted. Basically, they are characterized by brief outbursts of emotion, usually in the form of a laugh or a cry. They may be accompanied by forced eye movements, chewing or grinding the teeth, tonic posturing, and clonic jerking. You may appear confused and/or dazed during and after an episode. Gelastic seizures usually last 5 to 60 seconds and you may remember them clearly or may be completely unaware of what occurred.

19. Infantile Spasms (West Syndrome)

These consist of a cluster of sudden jerks followed by stiffening. Often the arms are flung out as the knees are pulled up and the body bends forward.
Infantile spasms consist of clusters of sudden, quick movements. Typically, if the child is sitting up, the head may fall forward, the arms will flex forward, and the body may flex at the waist. If lying down, the knees will be drawn up, with arms and head flexed forward as if the body is reaching for support. Individual spasms last only 1 or 2 seconds. They often repeat in a series of 5 to 50 or more. A child may have many series per day. Spasms are most likely to occur when the child is drowsy, just waking from a nap or falling asleep. They’re sometimes called “jackknife seizures” and are very rare. They occur only during the first year of life, usually starting around 3-7 months of age. Many children with infantile spasms have associated developmental delay and may go on to develop other forms of epilepsy, such as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.

20. Jacksonian Seizure (Also called Jacksonian March)

A kind of a simple partial seizure. “Simple” in this context means patients do not lose awareness. Partial means that abnormal neuron firing only occurs in part of the brain, and, accordingly, abnormal movement or sensation is limited to only part of the body. The characteristic features of Jacksonian march are that it only occurs on one side of the body and it progresses in a predictable pattern from twitching or a tingling sensation or weakness in a finger, a big toe or the corner of the mouth, then marches over a few seconds to the entire hand, foot or facial muscles.

Jacksonian march seizures are generally brief and relatively mild. They are episodic, come and go. There is no confusion afterwards. Sometimes patients may not even notice them. Some patients may also have a phenomenon called “automatism,” such as compulsively licking the lips, fumbling with clothing, or other rhythmic finger movements. Others may experience head turning, eye movement, muscle cramping, numbness, tingling, and a crawling sensation over the skin. Hallucinations can occur too, which can be visual or auditory, meaning patients may see or hear things that are not there.

21. Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy

(Also called Janz’s syndrome, impulsive petit mal, myoclonic epilepsy of adolescence, and jerk epilepsy.) Typically begins at puberty in otherwise healthy children. The first symptom is usually a generalized convulsion. These children may also have myoclonic seizures (jerking of the muscles) on awakening. A hand may suddenly fling out, a shoulder may shrug, a foot may kick, or the entire body may jerk. A child may spill or drop whatever he or she is holding or fall from their chair. Absence seizures may also occur. Juvenile myoclonic seizures can occur as a single event or in a series. Consciousness and memory are not impaired.

22. Lafora Disease

Is a severe form of epilepsy, characterized by seizures and progressive neurological degeneration. It occurs during late childhood or early adolescence. Death usually occurs within 10 years of the first symptoms.

23. Landau-Kleffner Syndrome

Also a rare disorder beginning between ages of 3 and 7. Produces seizures and affects speech. Children develop normal speech, and then slowly lose it. Simple partial and tonic clonic seizures. Treated with antiepileptic drugs to control seizures, and, possibly, steroids.

24. Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

Affects between 3-10% of children with epilepsy, more commonly males. The peak age for onset is between 1 and 8 years of age with extreme incidence occurring in the first and tenth years of life The most characteristic manifestation of the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome is in a large variety of seizures.

Tonic seizures, the most inherent kind associated with the syndrome, may occur at any time, both day and night. They are usually brief and consciousness is often impaired. Those cases which do appear nocturnally usually occur during the periods of slow-wave sleep in the latter part of the night.

Atypical absence seizures are also present in many cases. Such seizures can begin and end gradually with consciousness only partially affected. The child may continue to be active, however distant or abstracted thoughts. Often, there is a loss of facial and the neck muscles, accompanied by imbalance and abnormal posture. They might lean forward with an open mouth and signs of myoclonic epileptiform activity may become evident in a twitching of your eyelids and mouth. In such cases, massive myoclonic jerks, myoclonic-atonic attacks, as well as atonic seizures may occur, though much less frequent and severe than the other traits.

Tonic-clonic, clonic, or partial seizures are also characteristic of the syndrome and usually are evidence of an underlying cerebral disorder. Even worse, severe cases of status epilepticus may develop, leaving the child unconscious with a continuous array of atonic and myoclonic-atonic seizures. Such seizures may persist through days, weeks, or even months, causing possible mental developmental delay and physical repercussions.

25. Limbic Epilepsy

Limbic areas are regions in the temporal and frontal lobes, which are involved with memory and emotion and this is a seizure happening in this area.

26. Motor Seizures

They are a form of simple partial seizures which include clonic, jerking, convulsive movements. Jerking typically begins in one area of the body – your face, arm, leg, or trunk — and may spread to other parts of the body. These seizures are sometimes called Jacksonian motor seizures, their spread is called a Jacksonian march and they cannot be stopped.

27. Multifocal Seizures

While most seizures can be neatly split into partial and generalized, there exists some that don’t fit. For example: the seizure may be generalized only within one hemisphere. Alternatively there may be many focal points (multifocal seizures) that are distributed in a symmetrical or asymmetrical pattern.

28. Musicogenic Seizures

This reflex epilepsy is triggered by certain types of music or even specific frequencies of pitch for which your brain has a low threshold or tolerance. They usually involve a degree of cognitive or emotional appreciation of the stimulus. This usually results in a complex partial seizure, but may also induce others, such as tonic-clonic seizures. Sensitivity to music varies from person to person. Some people are sensitive to a particular tone from a voice or instrument. Others are sensitive to a particular musical style or rhythm. Still others are sensitive to a range of noises.

29. Neonatal Seizures

Neonatal seizures occur in babies soon after birth. As many as 1.5 to 2.5% of newborns have seizures in the first month of life. A further 20% of all seizures in children under 3 years of age have neonatal seizures. They’re generally classified as subtle, clonic, tonic, and myoclonic.

Subtle attacks are characterized by apneas with episodes of pallor, fixed staring, deviation of one or both eyes, eye blink, motor changes, episodic chewing movements, or stereotypic limb movements such as swimming or bicycling motions. Drooling and unusual alertness may accompany neonatal seizures. Usually, most neonatal seizures occur over only a few days and fewer than half of affected infants develop seizures later in life.

30. Nocturnal Seizures

These are usually tonic-clonic. They might occur just after a person has fallen asleep, just before waking, during daytime sleep, or while in a state of drowsiness. People who experience nocturnal seizures may find it difficult to wake up or to stay awake. Although unaware of having had a seizure while asleep, they may arise with a headache, have temper tantrums, or other destructive behavior throughout the day.

Nocturnal seizures are very uncommon and their mechanisms poorly understood. There is evidence that sleep enhances epileptic discharges in the EEG, though their daytime recordings may appear to be normal. However, if a pattern of limiting seizures to the hours of slumber is maintained, the chance of them occurring during the daytime is greatly reduced.

31. Partial (Focal) Seizure

They may occur at any age, as a single episode or as a repeated, chronic seizure disorder. They are seen less frequently in children than in adults, but still account for about 45% of pediatric seizure disorders. Patients with focal seizures can have any of the symptoms below. Those with simple focal seizures do not lose consciousness and will be aware and remember the events that occur at the time. If you have complex partial seizures, you will have abnormal consciousness and may or may not remember any or all of the symptoms or events surrounding the seizure.

Symptoms include: abnormal muscle contractions affecting one side of the body, abnormal head movements, staring spells, abnormal mouth movements like lip smacking, chewing or swallowing without cause, numbness, tingling, abdominal pain, nausea, or discomfort, sweating, a flushed face, rapid heart rate or pulse, sensation of déjà vu and changes in mood or emotion. (That about covers everything, doesn’t it?)

32. Pattern — Sensitive Epilepsies

In this reflex condition, seizures are produced by particular visual patterns. These triggers may consist of circles, stripes, or other patterns, usually of high contrast. Moving patterns are most likely to incite a seizure.

33. Photosensitive Epilepsy

If you have photosensitive epilepsy, certain types of flickering or flashing light may incite a seizure. The trigger could be exposure to television screens due to the flicker or rolling images, computer monitors, certain video games or TV broadcasts containing rapid flashes, even alternating patterns of different colors, in addition to intense strobe lights. And surprisingly, seizures may be triggered by natural light, such as sunlight, especially when shimmering off water, even sun flickering through trees or through the slats of Venetian blinds.

34. Post Traumatic Seizures

Seizures may develop immediately after an injury to the brain or may develop in delayed fashion, showing up months or years after the initial trauma. Generally speaking, the risk of post traumatic seizures is related to the severity of the injury. The greater the injury, the higher the risk of developing seizures. Even mild to moderate injuries can result in seizures.

It is thought that a head injury disrupts the pathways of the brain and that an epileptic seizure can be viewed as a sort of short circuit of the brain’s electrical functioning. During the seizure the electrical fields in the brain are overloaded, resulting in seizures. The most commonly seen seizures related to traumatic brain injury are “generalized” seizures, which are also called tonic-clonic or “grand mal” seizures.

35. Primary Reading Epilepsy

This is a reflex epilepsy where seizures are triggered by reading. Seizures usually begin in adolescence, and onset is unusual in younger children or adults over 30 years old. Patients report jaw jerking or clicking while reading, often with jerks of the arms, and if reading continues, a generalized convulsion may occur. Transient cognitive impairment has also been noted with the jerks.

36. Progressive Myoclonic Epilepsy

A rare, form of epilepsy with myoclonic (jerking) and tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures. Children with this condition may have trouble with maintaining balance and experience rigid muscles. There is also a loss of mental ability. A gene for this disorder has recently been discovered

37. Psychogenic Seizures (PNES or “Pseudo Seizures”)

Psychogenic seizures are not classified as a form of epilepsy. They may be brought on by stress, trauma, anxiety or a history of sexual abuse.

It’s difficult to differentiate between psychogenic and epileptic seizures. However, one reliable indicator of a psychogenic seizure is eye closure during the seizure. If you have a seizure, your eyes tend to stay open. Still, statistics indicate that, in 20-30% of cases, epileptologists are incorrect in attempting to distinguish one from the other. Although psychogenic seizures are not caused by electrical discharges in the brain and thus do not register any EEG abnormalities, they are often mistaken for epileptic disorders. It’s also possible to have both psychogenic seizures and epilepsy. Most patients with psychogenic seizures are misdiagnosed and consequently treated with epilepsy drugs or other epilepsy therapies, sometimes with severe and fatal side effects.

38. Rasmussen’s Encephalitis — also Chronic Focal Encephalitis (CFE)

This is a rare, progressive neurological disorder which affects one half of the brain, producing severe seizures, loss of motor control and speech along with paralysis on one side of the body. Various treatments have been tried, including surgery to remove the affected half of the brain.

39. Reflex Epilepsy

A seizure is considered a reflex seizure when it occurs as a direct response to a particular stimulus or event in the environment. These seizures are experienced by approximately 6% of people with epilepsy. They can be triggered by visual stimulation, a sudden “startle”, or a variety of other factors alone or in combination. If a patient only has seizures as a result of a certain stimulus then it is possible to control them by avoidance. Begins in childhood, is associated with absence epilepsy, and may disappear in adulthood.

40. Secondarily Generalized Seizures

Generally, they’re partial seizures evolving into generalized seizures, most often with tonic-clonic convulsions. The partial seizures which were once limited to one hemisphere of the brain progress to encompass the entire brain bilaterally, causing a generalized seizure. The clinical nature of a secondarily generalized seizure usually does not differ from that of the initial, originating seizure.

Secondarily generalized seizures are predominant in 16% of all children and 9% of all adults with seizure disorders. Most people with complex partial seizures and many with simple partial seizures will experience such a seizure at some point. When they occur frequently, the chances for future partial seizures may be increased.

41. Simple Partial Seizures (Focal Seizures)

Although your ability to respond may be preserved, motor manifestations or anxiety relating to the seizure symptoms may prevent you from responding appropriately You may see or hear things that are not there. Feel emotions, often fear, but sometimes sadness, anger, or joy. There may be a bad smell or a bad taste, a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach or a choking sensation. Sudden or restless movement or vision distortion are also characteristics. These seizures are sometimes called simple partial seizures of temporal lobe origin or temporal lobe auras.

42. Sensory Seizures

Some simple partial seizures consist of a sensory experience. People with sensor seizures may smell or taste things that aren’t there, hear clicking, ringing, or a person’s voice when there is no actual sound. You may also see lights, hear a buzzing sound, or feel tingling or numbness in a part of the body. Simple partial seizures usually last just a few seconds, although they may be longer. If there are no convulsions, they may not be obvious to those around you.

43. Startle Epilepsy

This is a type of reflex epilepsy in which seizures are provoked by loud noises or sudden surprises. Most patients with startle epilepsy are only sensitive to one sensory modality (i.e. temperature, taste, sound, pressure); however, it is the unexpected nature of the stimulus, rather than the sensory modality, that characterizes startle epilepsy. These seizures usually last less than 30 seconds. The seizure begins with a startle response, followed by a brief tonic phase. Patients sometimes fall to the ground and experience clonic jerks. Responsiveness to the stimulus decreases as a result of repeated exposure to the stimulus. Spontaneous seizures also occur in patients with startle epilepsy, but are infrequent in most cases.

People with startle epilepsy usually have static cerebral lesions and developmental delay. For many people, half of the body is partially paralyzed and it is the weak side of the body that is primarily involved in the startle seizures. Startle epilepsy is often associated with disorders such as Down syndrome and cortical dysplastic lesions.

44. Status Epilepticus

Status epilepticus (SE) is a common, life-threatening neurologic disorder. It is essentially an acute, prolonged epileptic crisis. Aggressive treatment is necessary. Maintenance of vital signs, including respiratory function, is of major importance. It may occur as a first seizure or if you are known to have seizures. Duration may last for a long time, or repeat without recovery. This prolonged or repeated seizure activity can result in death if it’s not treated immediately. Status epilepticus can be convulsive (tonic-clonic or myoclonic seizures) or non-convulsive (absence or complex partial seizures). A person in non-convulsive status epilepticus may appear confused or dazed.

45. Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

The seizures associated with temporal lobe epilepsy consist of simple partial seizures without loss of awareness and complex partial seizures, with loss of awareness. You lose awareness during a complex partial seizure because the seizure spreads to involve both temporal lobes, which causes impairment of memory. The result is complex partial seizures coupled with simple partial seizures. Generalized tonic clonic seizures may be part of this syndrome as well.

46. Tonic Seizures

Tonic seizures are characterized by facial and muscle spasms of your trunk, flexing or reaching of your upper and lower extremities, and impaired consciousness. Several types of tonic seizures exist. Those grouped with absence, myoclonic, and atonic seizures are non-convulsive and tend to be brief. The more prolonged seizures usually are convulsive and may manifest dilation of your pupils, tachycardia, apnea, a bluish tinge to your skin, salivation, and the loss of bladder or bowel control. Tonic seizures are often followed by postictal confusion.

47. Tonic-Clonic Seizures (“Grand Mal”)

In a generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure, you will probably giver out a short cry and fall to the floor. Your muscles will stiffen during the tonic phase and then, during the clonic phase your extremities will jerk and twitch. Often you will lose consciousness, stop breathing or have difficulty breathing, turn blue and lose bladder control which in not uncommon, but extremely embarrassing.

Afterwards, you may feel tired, confused and disorientated. This may last from 5 minutes to several hours or even days. Rarely, this disorientation may last up to 2 weeks. You may asleep, or gradually become less confused until full consciousness is regained.

48. Vertigo Epilepsy

While epilepsy is commonly accompanied by dizziness or vertigo, vertigo is only rarely caused by epilepsy. This arises primarily because vertigo is much more commonly caused by ear conditions. Epileptic vertigo is due to brain injury, typically the part of the temporal lobe that processes vestibular signals. Loss of consciousness usually occurs at the time of injury. The typical symptom is “quick spins.”

49. Withdrawal Seizures

This type of seizure is seen when certain medications, such as barbiturates and benzodiazepines, are stopped abruptly. In this case, continued treatment with antiepileptic medications is usually not advisable. Withdrawal seizures are common when a person with alcoholism is trying to quit drinking. If a person with epilepsy drinks alcohol heavily and experiences withdrawal seizures, it is difficult for the physician or specialist to determine the exact cause of the seizure and to determine the next appropriate step. Therefore, it is important to avoid alcoholic beverages once you begin taking antiepileptic medications.


In 1997, the International League Against Epilepsy began work on reclassifying seizures, epilepsies and epileptic syndromes. This revision remains in the works. But here’s what you have to look forward to…

Replace partial with the older term focal to describe seizures that originate in one part of the brain (though not necessarily a small or well defined area).

The word partial was regarded as ambiguous.

Drop the terms simple partial and complex partial – grouping based on the effect to consciousness is no longer regarded as useful.

Replace cryptogenic with probably symptomatic.

The hierarchy goes like this:

Self limiting seizure types
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
Focal seizures
Focal sensory seizures
Focal motor seizures
Gelastic seizures
Hemiclonic seizures
Secondarily generalized seizures
Reflex seizures in focal epilepsy syndromes
Continuous seizure types
Generalized status epilepticus
Generalized tonic-clonic status epilepticus
Clonic status epilepticus
Absence status epilepticus
Tonic status epilepticus
Myoclonic status epilepticus
Focal status epilepticus
Epilepsia partialis
Aura continua
Limbic status epilepticus (psychomotor status)
Hemiconvulsive status

The 1981 classification was marked by a distinction between simple and complex partial seizures. In the 1970 classification, the distinction was whether the symptoms involved elementary sensory or motor functions (simple) or whether “higher functions” were involved (complex).

This was changed to consider whether consciousness was fully retained or not.

As a result, studies that group patients according to these classifications are not directly comparable from one generation to another.

Speaking in its favor, the 1970 classification helped standardize the modern terms for many seizure types.

Before this, when life was intelligible and easy (but not quite as exact), terms such as petit mal, grand mal, Jacksonian, psychomotor and temporal-lobe seizures were used.

(And we actually understood what they meant.)

So stay tuned. A whole new world of seizure names and classifications may await us.

Another article of interest:

Myoclonic-Astatic Epilepsy (MAE), or Doose Syndrome

Aan epilepsy syndrome of early childhood that is often resistant to medication. For this reason, it can be difficult to treat. MAE is an idiopathic generalized epilepsy, meaning that there is no known cause for the seizures (idiopathic) and the seizures originate from all over the brain (generalized) as opposed to coming from one focal area. Onset of MAE occurs commonly in the first five yeas of life, with the mean age being three. Statistics show that it usually affects children who have previously developed normally, and boys are twice as likely as girls to develop MAE. In some cases, other family members (immediate or extended) may also have seizures.

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  1. I agree with you: it was SO much easier with the classifications from the 70s. I’ve developed more seizure types as I age, and all the new names and classifications are very confusing. Maybe it makes sense to the docs, but it leaves us more and more confused…not something I need any help with, LOL.
    If they want to change it again, I thinkthey should keep it to themselves…


    Comment by Donna — November 2, 2013 @ 3:58 PM

  2. I agree. I don’t know whether I’m coming or going!!! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 2, 2013 @ 4:14 PM

  3. Thank you for this compilation. Its been helpful at our support group when newly diagnosed people couldnt make heads or tails of their Drs mumbo jumbo dr-talk.
    That last segment of your article really is. Nmes!upsetting, though. I would think that the ILAE.( International League Against Epilepsy) could find better ways to spend their money than to sit around and come up with new names! We need a cure for this scourge. NOT new


    Comment by charlie — November 3, 2013 @ 7:22 AM

  4. Kind of ironic, isn’t it.

    And I agree, a massive misuse of time and energy!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 3, 2013 @ 10:11 AM

  5. I am with you there!! I am old enough to remember when I had Petits and Grand Mals (with a side of photosensitivity) Now there are so many names it is hard to keep track!


    Comment by Beth N — November 3, 2013 @ 10:19 PM

    • I wonder how many dr’s are confused too.
      Scary, huh?


      Comment by charlie — November 7, 2013 @ 9:05 AM

      • I have had docs who call grand mals just that and others who refer to them as tonic clonics…(i still think that sounds like a really bad drink btw)

        It seems there is no consistency and since I know grand and petit it is what I stick with. My brain isn’t always great at learning new terminology


        Comment by Beth N — November 8, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

    • I’m with you there Beth.

      I have no idea what kind of seizure I had on Tuesday.

      So I just call them “sezure events”, describe them and let the doc take it from there!


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 8, 2013 @ 11:45 AM

      • Phylis sometimes I think come up with new names just to keep us in the dark!


        Comment by Beth N — December 9, 2013 @ 4:49 PM

  6. It’s difficult to imagine ANYONE who wouldn’t be confused!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 7, 2013 @ 2:31 PM

  7. You need to add 1 more seizure Type to this list. Vertigo Epilepsy. We had a question about this on WebMD. I did Locate 2 sites w/ info. Message me on FB if you can’t find the Info. 🙂 🙂 Or visit WebMD & read the post w/ Links I provided. :).


    Comment by candi — November 10, 2013 @ 10:52 AM

  8. Thank you Candi. Brilliant as always. 🙂

    I’m sorry to sound stupid but I looked up “vertigo epilepsy” and only got this on WebMD http://www.webmd.com/brain/tc/dizziness-lightheadedness-and-vertigo-topic-overview

    And I’m embarrassed to say, I don’t know how to look up topics on Facebook.

    Would you mind sending me the links?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 10, 2013 @ 11:34 AM

  9. LOL Beth. At least it gives them something to do!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 9, 2013 @ 5:24 PM

  10. My name is Keith Phillips I’m 41years old, and I have seizure, I didn’t know what kind of seizures I was having until I read this page and found one that fit to a tee. Every time I would do any kind of research they all seemed to fit, a simptom from each. Thanks to this page, I now know that I have Nocturnal seizure that mostly happen when I’m asleep. I’ve been wake for a few over the years and I HATE them. The first one on record I was 22 years old, in hind site I was having them before that, I would wake up some mornings with this crazy feeling sometimes i’d bite my tongue but I would blow it off and got back to sleep, and the tongue biting please don’t let me start. I know god don’t make mistakes, but this sure feels like a curse, I have three beautiful kids and I am terrified to tears that my children will suffer this. I’m the only one in my family with this I found no one in my family anywhere with this. If there are support group I would like to come.


    Comment by Keith phillips — December 29, 2013 @ 3:57 PM

  11. First of all Keith, welcome.

    Second of all, you are NOT cursed. You said you have three wonderful kids — and there’s little to no chance that they will have epilepsy.

    Just because you have a parent, sibling, cousin or aunt who has epilepsy, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have it also.

    In fact, if you have a close relative with epilepsy, the chance of you having epilepsy is only about 2-8%, depending on the specific type of epilepsy.

    The risk in the general population is about 1-2%. On the other hand, there is a 92-98% chance for the close relative of someone with epilepsy to NOT have the same condition!

    So, even though the risk in families with epilepsy is higher than in the general population, most people with epilepsy do not have any relatives with seizures, and the great majority of parents with epilepsy do not have children with epilepsy.

    However, I do think you should go to a neurologist to be properly diagnosed, so you can get a decent
    night’s sleep and keep your tongue intact.

    Here’s a compilation by website forum members who have had positive personal experiences with these docs over the years:

    2013 Comprehensive List of GOOD Neurologists…Epileptologists…Neurosurgeons…and Pediatric Doctors


    The other best course is to ask your primary doctor for a recommendation.

    I don’t know where you live, but this list of support groups may help you. If you don’t find any on this list, ask your (new) neurologist or primary care doctor where you can find one.

    I run a support group in a local hospital, with an epileptologist and an education coordinator. We have about 25 members and it’s a tremendous resource for problem solving, empathy, support, information, you name it.

    Maybe you’ll find a support group near you on this list. (Or, at least, you have us!)

    Adult Epilepsy Support Groups — Updated


    Don’t hesitiate to write, ask for help, seek solutions (or at least suggestions) here at any time.

    Epilepsy Talk is a “family” — looking out for each other — caring, and sharing with a true sense of interest and generosity.

    I hope you’ll feel welcome here.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 29, 2013 @ 6:10 PM

  12. There’s also Musicogenic Seizures, Singing Seizures, and TEA (Transient Epilepsy Amnesia) which is interesting because both Inter-Ictal and Post-Ictal the patient is fully aware of total memory loss.


    Comment by Guy — January 17, 2014 @ 1:10 PM

  13. You as a musician should know all too well, Guy.

    For those that don’t know: Musicogenic Epilepsy is a form of reflexive epilepsy in which a seizure is triggered by music or specific frequencies.

    Sensitivity to music varies from person to person.

    Some people are sensitive to a particular tone from a voice or instrument. Others are sensitive to a particular musical style or rhythm. Still others are sensitive to a range of noises.

    My question to you Guy is, HOW do you do it???


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 17, 2014 @ 2:05 PM

  14. Hi..after reading this I do not know if I am relieved or terrified. I apparently have a type of partial complex seizure, from MVA’s. (6) in 10 years. Mine start with a kind of closing of reality feeling, and last for hours. Yes, I said hours. I woke up one morning and found I had gone to store and bought things I did not need. My aunt said I acted strange, uncooperative, took off clothes, etc. I have no memory of these times and I am scared. Even my dog acts afraid of me at times. The doctor said he had never heard of anyone having them for hours, but I do. It is verified by relatives who thought I was on drugs. NO! I had one gran mal when I had pneumonia and a high fever. After that, I was told I started acting strange at times .I have no memory of these times. Have you ever heard of this? I am almost afraid to leave my home. I am already disabled from the mva’s, and am 61yrs old. I would really appreciate any help . This is all new for about a year.
    Thank you….Patty


    Comment by Patty — December 1, 2014 @ 8:01 AM

    • Patty I am NOT a doctor, but I have heard of people having episodes like you are describing- but their doctors are describing them as auras- not CP.

      Bearing in mind that you can have 100 Neuros in a room and tell them all the same thing at the same time and end up with more than one opinion as well.

      If I were in your shoes I would go see a doc as soon as possible and see if they can find out where the seizures are happening in your brain- that can lead to answers for you, and your medical team.

      Myself I have not had anything like that happen- but I cannot imagine how it would feel. I hope you get a resolution soon.

      Sorry I can’t be more help


      Comment by Beth N — December 2, 2014 @ 2:07 AM

  15. Frankly Patty, I’m stumped. Except to say that head injuries and fevers are not a happy couple.

    What kind of testing have you had? This article might be useful. Because thorough testing might help you and your doc reach a deeper understanding of what’s going on.

    Beyond EEGs…Diagnostic Tools for Epilepsy https://epilepsytalk.com/2010/09/13/beyond-eegs%E2%80%A6diagnostic-tools-for-epilepsy-2/

    I sincerely hope the issue is resolved. That’s the best I can do. I am sorry.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 1, 2014 @ 9:26 AM

  16. Doosy Syndrome (Myclonic Astatic Epiliepsy or MAE) is missing


    Comment by Ande Bodnaryk — December 11, 2014 @ 8:24 PM

    • “Myclonic Astatic Epiliepsy or MAE is actually a atonic or drop attack.

      It’s an epilepsy syndrome of early childhood that is often resistant to medication.

      For this reason, it can be difficult to treat.

      MAE is an idiopathic generalized epilepsy, meaning that there is no known cause for the seizures (idiopathic) and the seizures originate from all over the brain (generalized) as opposed to coming from one focal area.

      Onset of MAE occurs commonly in the first five years of life, with the mean age being three.

      Statistics show that it usually affects children who have previously developed normally, and boys are twice as likely as girls to develop MAE.

      In some cases, other family members (immediate or extended) may also have seizures.”



      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 12, 2014 @ 10:17 AM

  17. I get a feeling of Deja vous with my epilepsy which makes me muzzy headed but aware of everything. Do others get a feeling of Deja vous before their attack


    Comment by john — December 12, 2014 @ 8:07 AM

  18. Aicardi Syndrome as a type of seizure? The girls who have been diagnosed with Aicardi Syndrome have many different types of seizures. It is also more than just ACC or partial ACC. There is retinal lacunae, and Infantile Spasms. I’m not sure why it would be listed as a type of seizure, perhaps as a seizure disorder. There is not just one type that is experienced with Aicardi Syndrome.


    Comment by J Anselmo — December 12, 2014 @ 8:58 AM

    • Thanks so much for your added insights and education!

      And yes, I agree that it would qualify as a seizure disorder.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 12, 2014 @ 10:44 AM

  19. I too was diagnosed with grand mal & petit mal seizures. However the ages you have for petit mal are incorrect. My last one was in my early 30’s before my seizures were under control again.
    The worst part is trying to acclimate yourself back into your old life again. Working, driving, etc… I’m still trying to get my license back. Seizure free for several years now.


    Comment by Stephanie — December 12, 2014 @ 10:23 AM

    • Same with me!

      I think it differs from person to person. And, of course, you can have several types of seizures too.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 12, 2014 @ 10:55 AM

  20. John, Reportedly, déjà vu can occur just prior to a temporal-lobe seizure as an aura.

    But you can experience déjà vu during the actual seizure activity or in the moments between seizures.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 12, 2014 @ 10:36 AM

  21. Hi I was having an average of 40-60 seizures a month about 15 years ago. None of the medication I was taking did anything to help. My husband found out on the internet by an American doctor that the sweetener aspartame caused seisures for people who had epilepsy. Even my nuerologist did not know this, but since I have stopped eating & drinking anything with it in my seisures have gone right down. Aswell as having a vagal nerve stimulator fitted. Im glad I found out about the aspartame and just want to let others kbow about it too.


    Comment by Trish Crampton — December 13, 2014 @ 5:25 PM

  22. Trish, I agree with you 100%. Aspartame is a deadly neurotoxic drug masquerading as a harmless additive.

    The Scandal of Aspartame



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 13, 2014 @ 6:17 PM

  23. I Searched your site for ‘Ecstatic Seizures’ & found nothing. These seizures can involve more than one seizure symptom ie: tonic-clonic, tonic & more. Here is a link to a story written by a man w/ these types of seizures. More Info on Google. http://www.charge.org.uk/htmlsite/dost.shtml BTW: I apologize for never gettin back to you about the Vertigo Epilepsy. The site/page I posted on WebMD Topic is no longer available. Strange, cuz, it is a site I have used in the past for Info. 😦


    Comment by Jeanne Phelps — January 17, 2015 @ 10:26 AM

  24. Thanks Jeanne. I included them — and almost got to 50!!! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 17, 2015 @ 11:20 AM

  25. I am a 52yr old female and had my first gran mal seizure in 2012. I had left my home and went to a store and then was going to Walgreens to pick up a script (not for seizures as I had never had one). While leaving the first store I noticed voices sounded kinda like Charlie Brown (whah whah whah) and then leaving, the door looked as if the frame was moving. This was the last I remembered until I woke up in an ambulance very confused, thinking I had a wreck. I drove two miles to Walgreens, parked, walked to the back of the store before I dropped. The hospital was about to release me and I had another gran mal seizure in the ER. They never found anything on the EEG. In February of 2015 I had broke my ankle and had surgery. My final visit was in July 2015, leaving the office I remember walking up to give my charge papers to one of the young ladies behind the desk. The next thing, I woke up in an ER. Luckily I had not left and started driving. This is very scary to me as they do not take your Drivers License in the state of Oklahoma. I read several things above but nothing about anyone actually functioning prior to dropping. I never remember anything about the seizure and takes awhile to remember where I was and what I was doing. I am on Kepra and do take my medication religiously as my health is important, but I could not live with myself if I drove and hurt or worse killed someone.

    Any advise???


    Comment by Kelly T — March 21, 2016 @ 2:30 PM

    • I think what you’re talking about with the Charlie Brown voice is an aura, prior to a seizure.

      Common warning signs (or auras) right before seizures are changes in bodily sensations, changes in your ability to interact with things happening outside you, and changes in how familiar the outside world seems to you.

      A trigger can activate this aura. Auras might include: visual changes, auditory changes, physical changes, or psychological changes.

      A Menu of Epilepsy Auras


      So action before a seizure is not unusual. And disorientation after a seizure is common. It’s called the the postictal state.

      The Four Stages of Seizures – Prodromal, Auras, Ictal and Postictal


      But what worries me is that you haven’t been tested beyond an EEG.

      EEGs are not the be all and end all of diagnostic testing.

      I know of people who have had 5 EEGs, only to be properly diagnosed when they finally had Video EEG Monitoring.

      So if someone is trying to pass you off or is ignoring your symptoms, perhaps you should become a little more familiar with your diagnostic options…

      Beyond EEGs…Diagnostic Tools for Epilepsy


      Maybe you should also start a diary to identify your triggers.

      Note your sleep patterns, what you eat and your daily routines, (including emotional and stressful).

      Try to identify when the seizures happen and anything that precipitates them as well as their duration .

      You’ll have a better idea of what’s setting you off and can identify your triggers and the aura(s) before your seizures and hopefully, gain more control.

      (For example, concerning Walgreens and the hospital, the lights might be the culprit. That’s known as photosensitivity auras. I used to get a metallic taste in my mouth and start drooling. TMI?)

      Anyway, I hope this info has helped rather than confused you.

      And feel free to ask any further questions, Kelly.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 21, 2016 @ 3:56 PM

  26. So every time I would stand up quickly my eyes got fuzzy I could walk and talk but one time my mom asked to get the keys out of her purse and my head fell into the purse and my body started shaking I was going into a Grand Mal. I was couscous but at the same time I wasn’t any ideas (don’t know if they’re seizures or not)


    Comment by Devynne McCann — June 22, 2016 @ 2:55 AM

  27. I would say you need to get tested…now.

    Do you have a neurologist?

    If not, below is a compilation by website forum members who have had positive personal experiences with docs over the years.

    This list is based on recommendations and, of course, is purely subjective.

    But it might be helpful for anyone looking for a good Neurologist…Epileptologist…Neurosurgeon…or Pediatric Doctor.

    NOTE: The National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) provides a directory of specialized epilepsy centers in the U.S. along with other useful information about epilepsy. http://www.naeclocator.org/find.htm

    2016 Comprehensive List of GOOD Neurologists…Epileptologists… Neurosurgeons…and Pediatric Doctors


    The doc will give you an EEG (Electroencephalogram), a non-invasive test which detects and records electrical impulses on the surface of the brain.

    These impulses are transmitted from small metal discs, placed on the person’s scalp, through wires which are connected to an electroencephalograph.

    This instrument is used to register the activity and record it on graph paper or on a computer screen.

    It is a safe and painless procedure which will not affect you in any way

    An EEG is used by a neurologist to determine whether there are any irregular electrical activities occurring in the brain which may produce seizures.

    It can help identify the location, severity, and type of seizure disorder.

    An abnormal EEG does not diagnose epilepsy nor does a normal EEG reading exclude it…

    I would GUESS that it’s an Absence Seizure, but I’m no doctor and neither are you.

    So please get tested, so you know what’s going on and you can be treated.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 22, 2016 @ 9:42 AM

  28. I had a weirdest seizure 4 nights ago , I watched the video , that I thought I was done with first one like I was breathing really heavy beginning its seems I can’t catch my breath , I was telling my BF I was done then suddenly seems other one was coming on again but my hands were up that I was doing fingers movement , my eyes were close but blinking , then my tougue sticks out part way that my looks like my jaw was lock , doing that for a minute or 2 then I suddenly take a breathe a again groan then my eyes were opening and shut , hands little shaking , then end it was like crying out burst for 15 seconds then I turn on one side then my breathing went really low , that my BF had to tell me breathe for a minute or so then suddenly I came out of it and went to sleep afterwards . It seems there were 3-5 seizures in that 15 minutes but different types but I am confused about eye closing part


    Comment by Trina Gelinas — July 1, 2016 @ 5:23 PM

    • Gee Trina, I wish I had an answer for you, but I’m stumped.

      It may have been that you were going through the different stages of one seizure, but I truly don’t know.

      The Four Stages of Seizures – Prodromal, Auras, Ictal and Postictal


      I’m sorry I can’t help you. I feel awful. 😦


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 1, 2016 @ 5:37 PM

      • Ok it makes sense now when I was reading the steps , because I was confused about my eyes being closed off and on , but looked like I was in pain , I remember felt pain discharges that I had like weird aura feeling earlier few hours before that had heavy breathing for 20 seconds werid body floating body feeling , before I went to bed my head was hurting that my BF was watching tv loud I end went to bed because I couldn’t handle the noise anymore then 20 minutes it started.


        Comment by Trina — July 1, 2016 @ 6:14 PM

  29. Whew. Glad we figured it out! Thanks for writing back, Trina.

    P.S. Are you seeing a neurologist? I hope so and please tell them about this — in full detail — like you told me. Write it down so you’ll remember, along with any other incidents.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 2, 2016 @ 9:27 AM

    • Yes I do , seen one at Univerisity of Salt lake he is good , but his new nurse is hard one get hold she says she keeps loosing my messages 🙁 Still waiting to hear back , he wants me come down for stay there long term stay so that can monitor but I know he will be on a leave a family leave soon his wife is going to have a first baby , but I am thinking going to mayo clinic in Minnesota I have so many issues besides my seizures. I was thinking also i might have PNES also because the eyes thing . That’s why i was confused .


      Comment by Trina Gelinas — July 2, 2016 @ 10:49 AM

  30. I think going to the Mayo Clinic is a superb idea.

    The Mayo Clinic Ranks #1 in Adult Neurology and Neurosurgery Hospitals, according to the US World & News Report, based on an impartial survey.



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 2, 2016 @ 10:57 AM

  31. I am having partial seizures in a very predictable pattern. Every three months I go through 20-30 partial seizures over 4 days. It seems that every 9th month I have a grand mal or two in my sleep. Has anyone else heard of or experienced this?


    Comment by john — August 9, 2016 @ 11:38 AM

  32. Geeze John, you have me stumped.

    There’s a guy in our group (Zolt) who has his seizures “on schedule”, but I don’t know why.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 9, 2016 @ 11:42 AM

  33. I have what was only explained as a “severe migraine seizure disorder ” most of the Dr’s at the time had never seen anything like it. It started with (best I can remember/ was told) a severe migraine accompanied by a high fever which continued to increase until I was hospitalized. ICU. I had stabbing shooting pains through my head, temple area mostly. Sometimes the base of my skull. You can put your hand against my temple or forehead and feel the heat flare as the pains struck. My temples will swell. I also have confusion spells and memory losses. To the point where I had to carry my address and phone number etc on me. I’ve seen some of the symptoms in the lists you provided….but to this day no-one can fully explain what I go through.


    Comment by Tess — August 20, 2016 @ 11:35 PM

    • Research shows that Depacon (Valproate) and Topamax (Topiramate) are effective in treating migraines and epilepsy.

      And each has FDA approval for treating them together. Depakote (Divalproex Sodium) also works for both, creating a therapeutic “two-fer.”

      There are also several other anti-epileptic drugs that have also been shown to lessen migraine headaches – such as Neurontin (Gabapentin), Keppra ( Levetiracetam) and Zonegran (Zonisamide).

      However, the dose of AEDs in the treatment of migraines is usually lower than that used for epilepsy.

      This link may help:

      Epilepsy & Migraines — Kissing Cousins



      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 21, 2016 @ 10:29 AM

  34. You said that we can make additions, so I wanted to let everyone know that I have Occipital lobe Epilepsy/seizures. My neurologist said that he has only seen 2 cases in 35 years. It is a rare type that they say is genetic and they dont understand why I have it.
    Thank you,
    Cheryl 😀


    Comment by Cheryl — August 28, 2016 @ 11:12 AM

  35. I wish I knew why also Cheryl. Perhaps this will help.

    The Genetics of Epilepsy

    Clinical tests suggest that genetic abnormalities may be some of the most important factors contributing to epilepsy.

    Some types of epilepsy have been traced to an abnormality in a specific gene.

    Researchers estimate that more than 500 genes could play a role in this disorder.

    However, it is increasingly clear that, for many forms of epilepsy, genetic abnormalities play only a partial role, perhaps by increasing a person’s susceptibility to seizures that are triggered by an environmental or external factor.

    Abnormalities in the genes that control neuronal migration – a critical step in brain development – can lead to areas of misplaced or abnormally formed neurons in the brain that can cause epilepsy.

    And in some cases, genes may contribute to development of epilepsy even in people with no family history of the disorder.

    These people may have a newly developed abnormality, or mutation, in an epilepsy-related gene.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 28, 2016 @ 12:08 PM

  36. My 9 year old daughter is in mainstream primary school with a diagnosis for Autism. She was tested for Petit Mal when she was three but they said there nothing showed up on the tests. My mum is convinced she saw something happen when she saw our daughter wake up from her sleep in the pram one afternoon when she saw her have a shudder. My mum said it was the way our daughter had shuddered when she saw it happen. I remember my hUSB and thinking he saw a few episodes of Petit male. It was all dismissed though and since we have been told that it is probably part of her zoning out with the Autism.


    Comment by Joanne Beilby — August 29, 2016 @ 4:03 AM

  37. I would suggest you have her tested with an EEG before you come to any conclusions.

    Medical evidence suggests that the prevalence of epilepsy in autism ranges from 7% to 46%. So, it’s nothing to be ignored and you’re not “seeing things”!

    Take a look at this article and see if it sounds familiar. (Even though it’s written from the epilepsy point of view.)

    Epilepsy and Autism



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 29, 2016 @ 10:49 AM

  38. Please sign me up.

    I have really enjoyed reading this article. So very informative.


    Comment by Carole Reed — October 19, 2016 @ 5:33 PM

  39. Ok. To subscribe to Epilepsytalk.com and get the latest articles by email, simply go to the bottom box of the right column and click on “Follow.”


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 19, 2016 @ 5:36 PM

  40. I suffer from Dissociative seizures and now after reading this page, I am starting to put names to my seizures. Thank you for publishing this information.


    Comment by Brian Ross — January 20, 2017 @ 7:09 AM

  41. I’m glad if I could help, Brian.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 20, 2017 @ 8:56 AM

  42. Lately I was going to speak but could not get the words out of my mouth. What is this?


    Comment by Martha Keller — April 10, 2017 @ 3:54 PM

    • Oh dear. It’s either aphasia or pure stress.

      “Some people have severe aphasia and can hardly speak a word.

      Other people have very mild aphasia and you may hardly notice that anything is wrong.” But the person may tell you that they can’t ‘remember’ friends’ names or that the exact word they’re looking for won’t come to mind.

      It’s similar to always having the word “on the tip of your tongue.”

      To help you understand what this is like, imagine yourself in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, can’t read a newspaper, or need to write with a different alphabet.

      You would have a lot of trouble understanding, but you certainly wouldn’t think that you had suddenly lost your intelligence!”

      See this link for more info:


      But in my humble opinion, I think it’s severe anxiety.

      “Speaking anxiety is the type of disorder that prevents you from living your life the way you’re supposed to.

      One of the symptoms that that can cause is difficulty speaking.

      Anxiety can be muting, and make it almost impossible for you to talk for both physical and mental reasons.

      This type of speaking difficulty can also create its own problems – problems that may increase your anxiety in the future.


      Some people have difficulty speaking because they’re thinking too much about way to say, what they’re feeling, etc.

      The more they think about it, the more they have hard time putting the words into sentences and sharing them out loud.

      Often they eventually lose track of the conversation and suddenly the moment has passed and they feel as though they simply can’t speak anymore.”

      See this link for more info:


      Does any of this make sense, Martha? Especially the anxiety.

      Perhaps therapy would help. Or even speech therapy. But I think psychological therapy would be more appropriate.

      I’m so sorry you’re suffering. 😦


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 11, 2017 @ 9:12 AM

  43. I liked simple partials and partial complex. It goes into more detail.
    13., Ecstatic Sz., 28. musicgenic Sz.,31 partial Partial Sz, ,32 pattern Sz.,, Simple partial and Sensory. Sz. Wow they did break this down Epileptologist on my medical form . Partial complex seizures.


    Comment by red2robi — May 25, 2017 @ 10:07 AM

  44. Red, I don’t doubt it. This is probably (a big tip) of the iceberg.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 30, 2017 @ 3:59 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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