10 Common Symptoms of Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder due to excessive and abnormal brain cell activity. Epilepsy is either related to a genetic disorder or because of a brain injury, such as a stroke.

When having a seizure, someone with epilepsy displays specific behaviors, symptoms, and sensations. Some symptoms for epilepsy are treated with medications. Otherwise, surgery, devices, or changes in diet may be necessary.

Symptom 1: Fainting/Loss of Consciousness

You faint and become unconscious because of a lack of blood and oxygen to your brain. When you collapse, your body may twitch, shake, and convulse.

These are classic signs of an epileptic seizure.

Symptom 2: Sensations

An epileptic seizure usually begins with the onset of a specific sensation, such as an aura or pins and needles feeling. Also, an aura may be a weird feeling in your stomach, being fearful, or having a hallucination.

Some consider the sensation or aura as a warning sign that they are about to have a seizure, but an aura is actually a partial seizure.

Symptom 3: Involuntary Movements

Do you make uncontrolled jerking movements with your arms and legs? Muscle contractions and spasms are a part of epilepsy.

Involuntary movements happen when you move your body uncontrollably and in an unintended way. They can be quick, jolting tics or long tremors and seizures.

Symptom 4: Temporary Confusion

After an epileptic seizure, you may be confused. What happened? What did you do? How long were you out?

You experience confusion because with epilepsy, your brain is having abnormal call activity. Your brain is not coordinating with your thoughts. It’s like you’re in a brain fog.

Symptom 5: Fatigue

Are you tired all the time? Feel week? Have no energy? Epileptic seizures basically drain your body.

Epilepsy causes sleep issues and interruptions. Some people feel either really tired before a seizure or vice versa. Also, seizures can even occur while you are sleeping.

Symptom 6: Amnesia

Epileptic seizures affect your memory. Sometimes, you may not recall new memories or old ones for about 15-30 minutes or so.

Epilepsy impacts your short-term and/or long-term memory. Some remember their grade school days, but can’t remember yesterday. Others know what they are doing today, but can’t recall what life was like when they were a teenager.

Symptom 7: Anxiety/Depression

You may feel anxious, uneasy, and sad. Anxiety and depression seem to coexist with epilepsy. Being anxious and/or depressed can actually trigger a seizure.

Medications can either help or worsen the feelings of anxiety and/or depression in epileptic patients.

Symptom 8: Headache

Epileptic patients are more likely to suffer from headaches than usual. They can occur before or after a seizure.

Migraines and epilepsy are both neurological disorders, which may be why they occur together.

Symptom 9: Temporary Paralysis

Numbness, tingling, and weakness following a seizure last only a few minutes. If they last longer, then it is considered Todd’s paralysis.

According to Livestrong, “Numbness and weakness on one side of the body, which lasts longer than the seizure, is known as Todd's paralysis. The partial or complete paralysis on one side of the body caused by Todd's paralysis mimics the symptoms of a stroke. Unlike a stroke; however, patients completely recover from Todd's paralysis.”

Symptom 10: Staring Spells

Abnormal electrical activity in your brain may make you have a staring spell that lasts less than 15 seconds. Staring spells are common with epilepsy.

For example, on the Epilepsy Foundation’s discussion forum, a mother of a patient stated: “I am new to this board. My daughter, not yet 2 years old, was diagnosed with staring spells. She will just start staring off with a vacant expression and we cannot get her attention by name calling, touching, waving hand in front of face, etc. She will just snap out of it afterward like nothing ever happened. We did an hour-long EEG (which came back normal), so the doctor does not want to diagnose her with absence seizures, but said what she was having is still seizures. We were able to get catch her staring spell on camera and the doctor determined from that video she was having a seizure. I am just trying to make sense of all of this.”