Facts About Stress Seizures And Stress Related Seizures

Most people with stress seizures or other seizure disorders are aware of the problem; they have been placed on prescription anti-seizure medication.  If they have a seizure, often the cause is failure to take  (or taking incorrectly) the medication.  People can easily confuse physical seizures, such as epileptic, with seizures related to being under stress.  This refers to mental or life stress, such as changes in income, moving, going to fight in a war, and so on.  This could be little or big things, from loosing your keys to finding your spouse cheating on you.

Stress seizures are not related to life stresses, at least not directly. The stress that the medical field is referring to in “stress seizure”, is stress of the nervous system.  This is usually the result of inherent brain damage or brain injury.  For example, damage from a head injury inflicted in a car or sports accident.  The head injury has resulted in permanent brain damage that inhibits the nervous systems’ ability to regulate bodily functions that are normally commanded by the brain.

A stress seizure is, in effect, a nervous system seizure.

Seizures by definition are caused by an overage of stimulation to the neurons, which the brain is not able to regulate. The nervous system consists of the cells of the brain and the spinal chord.  These cells have been damaged in people with seizure disorder. The damage causes inability to manage signals coming from the external environment and the person’s body and mind.

That said, people who have a history of seizures, or physical conditions that make them prone to seizures, can be triggered into one from life stress.  

Triggers that contribute to likelihood of a seizure: 

All of the following pertain to people with existing physical seizure disorder or propensity.

1.  Not taking medication for seizures - this is the most frequent trigger of all
2.  Excess life stress, psychological in nature, such as: driving in severely bad traffic, taking a test, rushing to be on time to work and the like.  This can cause a seizure because you are dealing with thoughts, worry, anxiety and anger and it can place a seizure prone person over the threshold.
3. Hormonal changes, such as starting or ending a menstrual period, menopause or testosterone changes in older adults, or pregnancy.

4.  Changes in the metabolism:  not eating, a change in eating pattern, diarrhea, vomiting, stress to the physical body, such as from aggressive exercise, a fall or other physical injury.
5.  Sleep disturbance, such as that caused by jet lag or working an odd schedule, disturbing circadian rhythms.  Also sleep depravation, one time, or prolonged.

6.  Use of strong medications; street drugs, prescription or over the counter.

What can be done to reduce seizure?

  1. Meditation, guided visualization and other stress reduction programs.
  2. Moderate physical exercise such as swimming, walking, bike riding.
  3. Use of melatonin to provide better sleep or assure a good nights’ sleep during a stressful period in life.
  4. Keeping seizure medication with you at all times and being religious about taking exactly as directed by your doctor.

Hopefully  you now understand the difference between stress seizure and seizure triggered by life stress, and the fact that a seizure cannot be caused by life stress unless there is an existing seizure condition.