Symptoms and Triggers
The main symptom of epilepsy is repeated seizures. These sudden bursts of electrical activity in the brain temporarily affect how it works.
Seizures can affect people in different ways, depending on which part of the brain is involved.
Some seizures cause the body to jerk and shake, while others cause problems like loss of awareness or unusual sensations. They typically pass in a few seconds or minutes.
Seizure symptoms include:
- Sensations such as tingling, dizziness, and feeling full in the stomach
- Sudden changes in emotions
- Altered senses
- Crying out or making a noise
- Stare off
- Loss of consciousness
- Jerky, rhythmic or twitching motions
- Falling down
- Confusion after returning to consciousness
- Loss of bladder control
- Biting the tongue
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it is important to determine if the seizures you are experiencing are epileptic or non-epileptic.
What are Non-epileptic Seizures?
Non-epileptic seizures resemble epileptic seizures in outward appearance, even though their internal cause is very different. Non-epileptic seizures are NOT accompanied by abnormal electrical activity and are believed to be involuntary psychosomatic reactions to the following:
- Prior traumatic experiences
- Active emotional stressors
- Long-term psychological and neurological factors
- Chronic physical conditions
If you are diagnosed with non-epileptic seizures, you will receive comprehensive multidisciplinary care through the Summa Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. The cornerstone of treatment involves in-depth neurobehavioral therapy (also known as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT), which addresses the underlying psychological factors associated with causing non-epileptic seizures. This is an effective treatment with a reduction in seizures and an improvement in overall quality of life.
For many people with epilepsy, seizures seem to happen randomly. Other times they can have a trigger, such as:
- Lack of sleep
- Waking up
- Drinking alcohol
- Some medications and substance use
- Menstrual cycles
- Flashing lights (this is an uncommon trigger)
Keeping a diary of when you have seizures and what happened before them can help you identify and avoid possible triggers.