Epilepsy Talk

Wounds that time won’t heal — childhood abuse and epilepsy | October 7, 2022

All types of abuse — sexual, physical, and emotional (including verbal abuse and witnessing domestic violence) raise the risk of depression, anxiety and epilepsy-like symptoms.

Research featured in Harvard Mental Health Letter and published in The American Journal of Psychiatry looked at the damage that hostile words, and/or yelling can have on a child.

They found “words are weapons that can cause lasting wounds, especially when wielded by parents against children.

The damage is sometimes more serious and lasting than injuries that result from beatings”, say Harvard researchers reporting on a survey of young adults.

Basically, abuse releases a cascade of stress hormones which produces a lasting effect on brain signals.

Experiments at McLean Hospital, for example, show that patients with a history of abuse are twice as likely to show abnormal electrical activity as non-abused people.

And this abnormal electrical brain activity, in turn, resembles a seizure state, but doesn’t actually produce epilepsy.

Hippocampal Sclerosis

This is a very common (but often unknown) feature of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Changes in the hippocampus — the part of the brain that deals with stress, learning and memory — can be caused by hormones flooding the brain during and after a stressful episode.

But the BIG question is whether hippocampal sclerosis is the consequence of repeated seizures, or whether it plays a role in the development of the epileptic focus?

NESD — Non Epileptic Seizure Disorder

A non-epileptic seizure is a short burst of activity that changes how you move, think, or feel. It looks like an epileptic seizure but there are no measurable electrical changes in the brain.

Not surprisingly, many people have a history of sexual or physical abuse. 75% to 85% are women between the ages of 15 to 35.

It’s a serious condition that shouldn’t be ignored. With early diagnosis and treatment, future problems can be averted.

Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures

These seizures are caused by psychological trauma or conflict that has a lasting effect on your state of mind.

The Epilepsy Foundation explains that sexual or physical abuse is the leading cause of psychogenic seizures, where the abuse occurred during childhood.

A psychogenic seizure can be confused with a grand-mal seizure — with convulsions, falling and shaking.

Less often, a psychogenic seizure takes on the form of a complex partial seizure, with a temporary loss of attention.

Because of the reasons for these psychogenic seizures, mental health counseling is encouraged. The prognosis is good, with 60 to 70 percent of patients alleviated of seizure symptoms.

“Children love and want to be loved and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. Do not mistake a child for his symptom.” — Erik Erikson

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  1. Reblogged this on Disablities & Mental Health Issues.


    Comment by Kenneth — October 7, 2022 @ 9:56 AM

  2. Doesn’t matter when & or how any abuse towards someone where that person KNOWS the person they are abusing, there is NO WAY someone else is ever going to know, because that person WHO RECEIVES that abuse, never tells a soul. WRONG !!! We who do get any abuse from THOSE WHO DID THE ABUSING,, IS, not might or maybe, or wont, but WILL & IS going to get payback from God. Romans 12:19 says it best. I just continue with my life ignoring all what was said & done to me otherwise, as all those people who believe that they have NOTHING to be paid back for or got away with something, they are the ones living a lie or ARE dead & gone by now, & WILL get that payback in time, as Jesus Christ best said it, that for anyone abusing any child of those who believe in him, it will be for them that a millstone gets put around their neck & they get tossed in the sea. Simply put PAYBACK IS HELL. I have heard it all & seen what happened to me, as they do not believe by what they do or by what THEY DON’T DO, they are no better than I am no matter how much BETTER THEY THINK they are than I am. That day is coming, and I will be hitching a ride in the clouds with the LORD & SAVIOR Jesus Christ, not them.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by James D — October 7, 2022 @ 8:04 PM

  3. it was bad words that left me open to CPTSD, I live in N Ireland and was involved in many violent scenes, but I never went to my parents for help, or say I’m frightened. I love my father, but he wanted me to get to university, was always pushing me further, there’s an important exam at age 11 here in the UK, he terrified me warning me if I didn’t pass it, I would finish up in what was known a bad school, with violence. I had nightmares, nearly wetting myself when homework results were given, did I make the top place. I was being bullied at primary school, till when I was 10, they threw me into a trench dug up for road works, don’t know how I got out, ran home sobbing, in a panic, mum said wait for dad, but he said you’ll have to stand up to them yourself. I never went back to them after that, never argued with them, tried to cope with the violence myself, often blacking out in scenes I couldn’t take. I have that hippocampus sclerosis, epilepsy started about 5 years after I think ptsd started, and it seems to be stress that often starts seizures. I started epilepsy with tonic clonic seizures but they’ve changed to focal awareness ones, they often seem to be more like the blacking out I used as a kid, I often find myself in a strange place, working, but no idea how I got there, and no one seems to notice a seizure with those. There’s so many people around me I can see are in trauma, but ptsd is hardly mentioned here despite the violence

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Gail Barry — October 9, 2022 @ 5:34 AM

  4. As well as PTSD, let’s not forget the toxic environment you were in.

    No safe house, no support. Only high hostilities and impossible expectations.

    Hell is a lonely place. No wonder you got seizures.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — October 9, 2022 @ 9:54 AM

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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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