Stressors And Seizures

When you hear the word epilepsy or seizures  you probably think of is a chemical imbalance of the brain. This is not always the case. Many times there can be a number of things that can trigger a seizure. Sometimes certain physical and emotional stressors can cause seizures. These are referred to as psychogenic non epileptic seizures.  Here we look at the relationship between mental stressors or conditions and seizures. Things that can be done to control, or even prevent them are also covered.

Stresses of seizures

Just as it sounds, psychogenic seizures are triggered by mental and emotional factors and are not epileptic. These relationship between these stressors and seizures can be mental or emotional stress faced  due to previous life changing events. This includes things such as a previous relationship, income, or many other possible factors. Most of the time, your doctor probably does not consider these effects of stressors and seizures which may be non epileptic.

If you think  you may be experiencing a non epileptic seizure, you should mention it to your doctor. You may be sent to a counselor to assistance with any underlying  issues. It has even been shown that those that have  refractory epilepsy have non epileptic seizures as well (10). There are many common triggers  seen in  non epileptic seizures. These include: missing medication, emotional stress, sleep deprivation, fatigue, missing meals, fever, and smoking as the most common triggers. (12)

Epilepsy can have a major impact of different areas of your life. This includs employment, transportation, and even relationships.  Many people believe that epilepsy is something that may prevent one from becoming employed. This may be partially true, but job discrimination may be even a bigger factor (13). Things such as low income, unemployment, mood disorders, and anxiety can be  factors concerning stressors and seizures. Therefore, knowing specifics about the individual and coming from their personal perspective may be of help to a doctor (16,7).

For non epileptic patients, things such as anxiety and depression play a major role in the frequency of seizures (3,5) In one study, it was looked at if emotional stress was a trigger of the onset of epilepsy. Over 4000 patients were followed over a two-year period. It was concluded that five percent began having seizures  3 months after a life changing event. This says that being able to manage ones’ reaction may be of importance in preventing seizures (6). You can also exhibit signs of having emotional stressors and seizures, but the seizure may still be epileptic (14). In this case, you may not be able to control many of the factors involved.  What you can control or improve should be a positive step in decreasing the seizures you are having.

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Predicting seizure occurrence

One major factor in  controlling the frequency of  non epileptic seizures is  perceiving and predicting stressors or triggers.  Depression, anxiety and PTSD are all possible triggers. You may also have personal triggers as well. In some cases, depression has been the main variable when it comes to stress, depression and anxiety.  This is because the depression controls the stress and anxiety (4).  You should know the cause of the depression and  eliminate it. When your able to do this, the frequency of seizures may decrease or even stop. If your having non epileptic seizures, you can usually sense a oncoming seizure.  Knowing the stressor involved, stress and the frequency of seizures  should decrease in comparison to a epileptic seizure (2,8,11)

Some physical signs can be used to predict the possibility of a seizure as well.  This includes heart rate, blood pressure, and other factors (1).  It has been shown for psychological stress to be the most frequent trigger seen for a seizure occurring. Some patients see such stresses as being the cause of developing epilepsy in the first place (17,18,19).  Activities such as meditation, yoga, and exercise may help reduce stress allowing you to predict when a seizure may occur. This may decrease the frequency of seizures that you are having (14). It is also thought that although stress is the most common factor in the trigger of seizures.  Stress may not be the trigger itself, but it may increase the likelihood of a seizure occurring (15)

Stressors such as depression, anxiety, and ptsd can be stressors for seizures. If you have epileptic or non epileptic seizures you should  know what the emotional triggers are. Knowing these triggers could decrease the frequency of the seizures.