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how to distinguish epilepsy and mental illness
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how to distinguish epilepsy and mental illness

Hi.  I'm new here and am not sure how effective it will be to post but I am getting frustrated and have had many different opinions and consults in regards to my condition.  Since I was a child, I have had a lot of unexplained experiences, night terrors, hallucinations visual and auditory, spontaneous vomiting, daydreaming, sleep paralysis like symptoms, traveling muscle cramps, unexplained numbness in hands and feet and around mouth, terrible insomnia, and just feeling "odd" or "different" than my peers.  I should note that these symptoms or spells usually don't last longer than a minute or two, but my recollection of the events are usually after the fact and have been reported to me by someone else.  I have had a number of emotional problems as well.  In fact, it was believed until recently when I suffered from my first grand mal while awake that was witnessed that this was all purely psychiatric in nature.  I have been through a gazillion treatments for bipolar, depression, schizotype disorders, etc to no avail.  In fact, the psychiatric treatments often made my passing out spells, vomiting, body temp changes, sleep issues more prevalant and worsened my overall condition.  It wasn't until recently like I said that I was diagnosed with a seizure disorder and I am wondering what the connection is.  I am 30 years old now and have had these problems for my entire life.  It has been hard to get the docs to take me seriously because my history is disjointed at best as I have terrible issues with my  memory and was often alone growing up so basically it is my word and my history with only recent input by my current husband and exhusband etc, after the fact.  I can say that these spell activities were worse as a child, around age 12 or so, during my pregnancy at 18, and during birth control pill changes, high stress, lack of sleep, and of course, recently.  I have been on 1500 mg of Keppra in the a.m. and p.m. and now have just been prescribed Zonagran with a referall to a university hospital for further testing.  I have also had testing EEGs, MRI, CAT scans etc that were negative as far as I know.  I was wondering if my diagnosis is getting convoluded  by my psychiatric symptoms and also if it is possible to have seizure activity so deep in the brain that it is not detectable by conventional EEGs.  I have never had a "baseline" with my health issues and I am only 30 years old and desperate to live a "normal" if not relatively normal life.  I still have a lot of "activity" at night with lip smacking, waking with muscle cramps, hands in curled tense position, unexplained bruises and falling, and that is why the additional medication was prescribed as well.  I lost my job recently due to cognitive changes, used to be an editor and now cannot even read a book well when I used to zoom through most novels in an afternoon.  I used to be above average intelligence with deficits in math but  now I feel as if I am getting dumber with spelling, grammar errors I never used to make, inability to remember names, etc.  I know this entry is getting a bit long and of course a little disjointed again and I apologize.  I would really appreciate any input and advice,a direction even,so I can get the proper treatment I need.  I have been told numerous times what a "fascinating case" I was but no one seems to want to help me sort through all of it.  I don't want to be fascinating any more, I just want to live my life.  Thanks in advance.  Any input is appreciated.
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i can't give you a direction, but my history and yours have a lot of similiarity, past as well as present, and i have asked the same type of question about possible epilepsy and behavior problems.  i have any leads as of yet, but maybe someone out there have had some of the issues you describe.  my troubles have been deemed psychiatric too, and i am getting worse with twitches and pain in my right brain, eye and numbness in my right face.  here's hoping.  emily collins
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Avatar_f_tn
I will be following this thread for answers.  My son is 5 years old and has symptoms just like you describe, along with violent behavior and on and off delusional behaviors (thinking we are someone else, thinking we are trying to get him/trying to kill him, etc.).
He will go from being fine and totally with it and happy and then all of a sudden tense up and his face gets weird and he is violent.  They say he has focal seizures.  He has had a VEEG.  He is on seizure meds and psych meds.  They have gone over a million possibilities of diagnoses:  schizophrenia, bipolar, autism.....etc.
I am afraid we will never know how to help him.  He seems to get worse and worse.
He also suffers from migraines, light and sensory sensitivity and he absolutely cannot handle video games.  They cause a violent reaction and migraines and absence seizures for days afterwards.
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1268337_tn?1270956283
I'm kind of going through the same thing right now. I have epilepsy and since I was 15 I've been diagnosed as bipolar, schizophrenic, schizoaffective, etc. Now I've been told that (besides now having a personality disorder) I have atypical psychosis and thus my diagnosis has been changed to borderline personality disorder and psychotic disorder NOS. I've done some research and I read that some of my hallucinations, like colours changing or objects moving, are not typical visual hallucinations and are more indicative of a neurological condition, same with the voices that I hear and can't make out what they're saying. And there is this thing called inter ictal psychosis, or psychosis in between seizures, where such hallucinations and transient delusions (similar to mine, and unlike the chronic delusions of schizophrenia) are present. I get simple partial and tonic clonic seizures by the way, and I used to get absence seizures.

So, seizure activity can really mimic psychiatric symptoms. Now I have to wonder if my antipsychotic-resistant psychosis is psychiatric or due to my under treated seizures.
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I was diagnosed with bipolar over 10 years ago.  I think I've been on every med out there and the 1 dr. also prescribed an anti-seizure.  Then I went through ECT and was taken off the anti-seizure meds.  I asked to stop that last May. Recently I had a grandmal seizure and was put back on anti-seizure med.  I feel great overall and was told - maybe I don't have bipolar afterall.
So...did I go through all that for nothing?
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Avatar_f_tn
A lot of time Seizures are Misdagnosed as being Bipolar or ADD/ADHD and the drugs they use to treat ADD/ADHD  has the side effect that can cause Seizures.

My son was on ADDERALL (adderrall) and then Concerta until I found out he was having Seizures and one of the Doctors told me that these drugs have the side effect of causeing Seizures.I took my son off of then.My son has Seizures in his sleep twitching legs or arms and eyes rolling up and even some times his lips moving.He also has staring  ones and head drop ones.He has had a lot of test done and we still don't know how to stop them .We have tried many Medicines and last June he had surgery and had what they call the VNS put in.And he still has Seizures every day.I am waiting for test to come back to see if maybe he can't eat wheat.This started in 2006.

I do give him Vitamin C Vitamin B6  and Omega 3-6-9 and this has helped some.He is way behind in learning.But getting better now that he is getting help from two Teachers that take turns coming to our home to work with him for 2 hours after School.

There are a lot of Viedos on youtube showing different kinds of Seizures,it might help you all to watch them.

also if you or your child has been on drugs they use for add/adhd or bipolar they could have caused it or made it worse.

some of them are just like taken speed.

I would never give  anyone these drugs.

Hope I have helped.

god bless.
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Avatar_f_tn
The short answer to this question is really 'no', but epilepsy is caused by abnormal electrical impulses – an excessive discharge of cerebral neurons – that result in disturbed activity of the brain, resulting in full or partial seizures.
They can be general, involving most of the brain and causing a major seizure with unconsciousness, or they can be focal, where the discharge is limited to a local area of the brain and just has a local effect such as twitching on one limb or the experience of an unusual sensation.
Seizures may occur without any obvious cause, or follow brain injury, and can also be brought on by some drugs, and on withdrawal from alcohol, sleeping tablets and tranquillisers.
However they are not brought on by the chemical imbalances that are thought to occur in the brain of people with depression, for example.
There is no direct association between mental illness and epilepsy, but mental illness may occur more frequently in epileptics for a number of reasons.
Examples would be recurrent status epilepticus, where a series of unremitting seizures can cause secondary problems to brain function, and where epilepsy severely curtails employability and lifestyle.
This can affect outlook on life, personality, and cause social withdrawal and induce depression. Drug treatment can also cause sedation and influence mood.
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