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Can seizures be caused by anxiety?
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Can seizures be caused by anxiety?

A friend recently starting having Grand Mal seizures.  MRI, CT EEG and all blood test were negative.  There is a family history of Epilepsy.  His mother had a frontal lobectomy at UCLA.  Since the Doctors cannot find a reason for the seizures the have called them Psychogenic and caused by anxiety.  Can this be the cause?  They have prescribed Paxil and Xanax today.  They also thought they may be pseudo seizures.  But this guy is 17 years old and frankly is not that good of an actor.  His seizures start with tachycardia, then eyes fluttering, head turning to the side, stiffening of the whole body and turning red.  Then one leg starts jerking and usually one hand clenches and starts pounding the ground or hitting himself, his pulse is rapid and very weak (barely detectable).  When coming out of it his eyes flutter again, he usually coughs, he is very confused and aphasic and often times is combative.  I have witnessed him have over 30 seizures in the last 3 weeks and each time they are identical with the exemption of the length of time they last.  Usually between 1 and 4 minutes.  Often times he has multiple seizures and is unresponsive in between up to 1 hour.  He had oral trauma and urine incontinence 1 time.  I would think if they are pseudo they would change.  Nobody is that good at acting.  The Doctors in the ER said if they were real seizures there would be an enzyme present in him afterwards.  Well Doc whats your opinion?
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242532_tn?1269553979
Yes there are psychogenic seizures but this certainly does not sound like one. I would continue the workup or ask for a neurological consultant, and also consider, with the doctor, a trial of medication that controls grand mal seizures.
6 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
I was diagnosed with grand mal seizures about 9 years ago.  I was at a time of great stress in my life and began having small seizures either due to the stress, or the small seizures were causing me to be stressed.  I am still not sure, but I know that I was depressed, anxious, and falling over every once in awhile.  Doctors were quick to say that I was just anxious, that I too was having pseudo seizures, and treatment was a variety of anti-anxiety medications until after about 4 months I had a grand mal seizure in front of a bunch of people.  I went on dilantin and for about 7 years was great, seizure free.  2 years ago I had a bout again with anxiety and was thought they were small seizures, which they were not.  I began taking paxil finally after being convinced that I was having panic attacks and not seizures.  For me, the two seem to go together.  I can tell the difference now between a seizure and a panic attack, which feel quite different.  Stress does play a part in both.  Therapy, the right medication, exercise, and having good friends have helped me find the solution.
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Avatar_n_tn
What do you do if it IS a symptom of hysterical neurosis?  The physical symptoms can appear very real but if the correct diagnosis is that the cause is not physical, what is the best course of action?  It is very important to rule out physical causes but that does seem to leave the mental/emotional causes without help or support.
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Avatar_n_tn

Dear IHOLT,

Pseudo-siezures and psychogenic seizures are the same thing. That means they are caused by mental conditions and not brain waves going whacko.

Yours sound like real seizures and since you have a family history, it is likely that they are real. Many doctors know little or nothing about seizures. The Medline Docs suggestion of a solid Neurological workup was a good one.

I discovered about four years ago that some seizures such as the ones I have (Partial Complex), cannot always be detected on the EEG because they are two deep in the brain.

Over here our flimsy EEG has only 12 leads. They are supposed to have something like 64 leads! That's a major difference and will give false results in many cases. Also if he is not seizing during the time of the EEG, it may not show up. He may want a 24 hour video monitored EEG. That is not available here.

There are many choices of anti-convulsant drugs. Depakote, Tegratol, Dilantin and Klonopin are a few. I take Klonopin for my seizures because of bad side effects from the others.

If you try an anti-convulsant and it stops the seizures, then that is almost proof without the tests the seizures are real brain wave action type and not just stress. Stress can aggravate the situation however. Good Luck and keep us up to date.

Oh, by the way, if you are a heavy drinker and trying to stop, that also can trigger grand mal or partial complex seizures.

Chatahan
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Avatar_n_tn
I am in desperate need of help. My daughter is 30 years old and one year ago out of the clear blue sky she had a grandmal seizure while we were at retreat for church. We went to a neurologist and the EEG she did came out abnormal. We then were sent to UCLA about 4 months later. They put her on several types of seizure medications. They were dilantin, lamictal, keppra,and neurontin. It still didn't stop the seizures. We then went through the unit where they watch you 24 hours a day and have you hooked up to EEG leads. She went through sleep deprevation and she had three seizures while she was there. THe doctor said that her seizures were stress seizures and she needed to see a psychiatrist. We followed his instructions and saw the psychiatrist, the doctor said it was nice meeting us but he did not see any reason why we were there. He could not help us. He suggested that we see a therapist. We did that and again we get the answer it was nice meeting you if you ever need to talk about anything please come back. So we are at a loss right now, she is still having seizures and no help. If anyone has any idea on what I can do to help my daughter please let me know. I don't know where to turn too.

Thank You
Nbskids
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Avatar_n_tn
I am in desperate need of help. My daughter is 30 years old and one year ago out of the clear blue sky she had a grandmal seizure while we were at retreat for church. We went to a neurologist and the EEG she did came out abnormal. We then were sent to UCLA about 4 months later. They put her on several types of seizure medications. They were dilantin, lamictal, keppra,and neurontin. It still didn't stop the seizures. We then went through the unit where they watch you 24 hours a day and have you hooked up to EEG leads. She went through sleep deprevation and she had three seizures while she was there. THe doctor said that her seizures were stress seizures and she needed to see a psychiatrist. We followed his instructions and saw the psychiatrist, the doctor said it was nice meeting us but he did not see any reason why we were there. He could not help us. He suggested that we see a therapist. We did that and again we get the answer it was nice meeting you if you ever need to talk about anything please come back. So we are at a loss right now, she is still having seizures and no help. If anyone has any idea on what I can do to help my daughter please let me know. I don't know where to turn too.

Thank You
Nbskids
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