In our world, no one is immune to various diseases. Epilepsy, affecting both adults and children, is one such disease. It is characterized by severe seizures occurring without significant pain, but caused by genetic, physiological, or psychological factors. What should we know about this common disease and how can we overcome it?
- What is This Disease: Main Types and Symptoms
- Classification of Seizures
- Most Common Forms of the Disease
- Mechanism of Seizure Development and Its Causes
- Psychosomatics of Epilepsy: Psychologists’ Opinions and Recommendations
- Course of the Disease
- Risk Groups
- Epilepsy and Psychosomatics
- Provoking Factors and Psychosomatics
- Epilepsy: Causes of Adult Onset
- Psychological Disorders in Epilepsy
- Psychology of Diseases: Epilepsy
- Epilepsy: Louise Hay
- Epilepsy: Vladimir Zhikarentsev
- Epilepsy: Lise Bourbeau
- Epilepsy: Valery Sinelnikov
- Epileptic Seizures in Children
- First Aid During Epileptic Seizures in Children
- Diagnosis and Treatment
What is This Disease: Main Types and Symptoms
Epilepsy is a group of diseases with various manifestations but the same nature, accompanied by epileptic seizures. Currently, 46 different types of epilepsy are known. Each is caused by disturbances in the processes of excitation and inhibition in the brain’s cortex. Any stimulation sensed by the organs is converted into an electrical impulse sent to the brain. Certain stimuli cause seizures, but not all seizures indicate epilepsy.
Diagnosis is made after at least two seizures fitting specific characteristics and showing electroencephalographic signs.
Externally, seizures look frightening, but their main dangers are suffocation and head injury due to falls. To begin treatment, the specific form of the disease and type of seizures must be identified.
Classification of Seizures
In 1981, the International League Against Epilepsy proposed classifying epileptic seizures into types:
- Focal: Short-term seizures triggered by a specific circumstance, causing activation of part of one brain hemisphere. Can be simple (without loss of consciousness) or complex (with loss of consciousness), including motor, autonomic, sensory, and psychological symptoms.
- Generalized: Time-limited seizures with minimal involvement of both brain hemispheres. Occur with loss of consciousness and strong convulsions of both sides of the body. The second form is subdivided into several types, each with its characteristics:
- Typical absence: Consciousness is lost, the person stops moving, does not react to external stimuli, does not remember the incident after the seizure, frequency of typical absences can reach dozens of times a day;
- Atypical absence: Characterized by automatic movements, lasting a few minutes, body arching, and eye rotation;
- Myoclonic seizures: Brief twitching due to involuntary muscle contractions, often occurring in the morning;
- Clonic seizures: Irregular convulsions affecting peripheral trunk muscles, tongue biting or involuntary evacuations, confusion and prolonged recovery;
- Tonic seizures: Characterized by strong, prolonged muscle tension in the legs, affecting the face, neck, and arms, occurring during sleep or physical activity;
- Tonic-clonic seizures: Tonic body tension transitioning to a phase of clonic convulsions after 5-20 seconds, characterized by tongue biting and involuntary urination due to complete muscle relaxation;
- Atonic seizures: Sudden or gradual loss of muscle tone in part or all of the body, leading to falls. Modern research shows that generalized seizures include 2-3 types manifesting simultaneously or at different times.
Most Common Forms of the Disease
Besides seizures, it’s also important to diagnose the form of epilepsy. It depends on etiology (the disease’s origin, its cause) and is divided into three main types:
- Idiopathic form: Arises due to genetic predisposition, characterized by no signs of organic brain damage. In this form, CT or MRI do not detect pathological changes, and intellect remains normal.
- Symptomatic form: The main cause is brain damage during pregnancy or after birth. Reasons for such changes include intrauterine infections, injuries, infectious or degenerative CNS diseases.
- Cryptogenic form: Caused by organic brain damage, the cause of which cannot be determined, but CT, PET, or MRI can reduce the frequency of cryptogenic epilepsies.
Mechanism of Seizure Development and Its Causes
Contrary to misconception, epilepsy is not a mental disorder and is not contagious. Its occurrence is due to the irritation of brain neurons. In a normal person, electrical impulses are uniform in all areas, but in epileptics, they are more intense in one area, leading to a “short circuit” manifested as an epileptic seizure. Frequent recurrence of such seizures is called an epileptic syndrome.
However, an epileptic syndrome does not always indicate the development of the disease. It arises as a result of a brain illness, while epilepsy is a separate disease. Epileptic syndromes vary in severity. They are divided into prolonged and serial, do not accompany mental disorders or intellectual decline.
The area of increased epileptic activity is called the seizure focus. Its occurrence is facilitated by external environmental factors or changes in the body:
- Exposure to toxic substances (including alcohol and drugs);
- Cyst causing swelling in the motor brain area;
- Brain diseases;
- Acute infectious diseases;
- Head injuries.
The disease sometimes has a genetic nature and can also arise from psychosomatic factors.
Psychosomatics of Epilepsy: Psychologists’ Opinions and Recommendations
Epilepsy, which strikes both adults and children, is characterized by severe seizures without much pain but can have genetic, physiological, or psychological causes. What is essential to know about this prevalent illness and how to conquer it?
Course of the Disease
A genetically inherited disease diagnosed early significantly accelerates successful treatment. Epilepsy identified in early stages, with proper treatment, can remain dormant for years. However, advanced cases lead to more frequent and severe seizures.
The precursor to seizures is known as an aura. Epilepsy is a chronic illness, and individuals learn to self-diagnose an impending seizure by recognizing their aura. Aura manifests as various emotional states:
- Déjà vu;
- Illusions or hallucinations;
- Blurred vision;
- Hearing impairment;
- Altered taste sensations. Important! Epilepsy often accompanies significant personality changes. Individuals may become more aggressive, irritable, confrontational, paranoid, and self-absorbed.
Epilepsy can occur at any life stage, from infancy to old age. However, doctors note that seizures most frequently occur in children under 15, accounting for half of all seizures in a patient’s lifetime. Risk groups include children with epileptic family members and those during hormonal crises (ages 3, 7, and 13).
Among adults, risk groups include patients who have suffered severe infectious diseases (meningitis, encephalitis), alcoholics and drug addicts, those with traumatic brain injuries, or those exposed to harmful toxic substances for extended periods.
Epilepsy and Psychosomatics
While external and genetic factors are well-established causes of epilepsy, psychosomatics plays a crucial role in disease formation. Medicine interprets an epileptic seizure as a one-time excitation in a specific brain area, leading to loss of bodily control. However, organic brain damage is not always the cause of such internal conflicts. Persistent personal violence, negative experiences, and stress accumulate over time, potentially leading to disease development.
Provoking Factors and Psychosomatics
Cryptogenic forms of epilepsy, not visible in neuroimaging, are considered by psychologists to have a psychosomatic nature. Psychosomatic causes of epilepsy are diagnosed during a psychologist’s consultation and manifest at various ages. Particularly susceptible are individuals in sensitive life periods, including:
- Onset of menstrual cycle in girls;
- Overprotectiveness by parents and breaking away from it;
- Experiencing stress or depression;
- Complicated pregnancy. Important! Reflex epilepsy is triggered by external stimuli: bright light, loud music, flickering images. Treatment involves avoiding these triggers.
Epilepsy: Causes of Adult Onset
“Fallen sickness” is induced by negative emotional experiences over an extended period. The causes of adult-onset epilepsy depend on the environment in which the person lives and works, including:
- Feeling suppressed, detached from the outside world;
- Misunderstanding of interaction mechanisms with others, loneliness;
- Denial of self, right to happiness, freedom, and even life;
- Persistent neuroses, panic attacks, anxiety, paranoia;
- Conflict with oneself, excessive demand, pedantry, perfectionism;
- High levels of aggression towards oneself and others. Constant exposure to these feelings can cause physical discomfort. The habit of consistently sacrificing one’s desires provokes not only prolonged neuroses but also a sense of despair. These factors contribute to the development of epilepsy.
Psychological Disorders in Epilepsy
The appearance of psychological signs of epileptic illness can be mistaken for other deviations. The most common are:
- Twilight disorder (feeling of unreality);
- Acute psychosis (aggression, poor health, memory lapses);
- Epileptic oneiroid (thought dysfunction);
- Signs of schizophrenia (disintegration in thoughts and actions).
As epilepsy is still under study, more disorders may be identified, but early diagnosis and acknowledging the problem are halfway to recovery.
Psychology of Diseases: Epilepsy
Despite its apparent complexity and frightening symptoms, leading international and domestic epilepsy specialists have developed their own treatment methodologies. These are focused on changing consciousness, attitudes towards the disease, identifying and eliminating its causes without medication, but through psychotherapy, meditation, and self-suggestion.
Epilepsy: Louise Hay
Louise Hay, using her own experience, proved that physical and mental health are interconnected and depend on the individual. She created a table listing psychosomatic causes of diseases affecting different body parts, individual organs, and chronic conditions. Louise Hay believes that epilepsy arises from a rejection of one’s fate and perpetual dissatisfaction with life. She was among the first to discuss these psychosomatic factors of epilepsy:
- Constant internal struggle;
- Persecution mania;
- Refusal of life’s joys.
For each disease, she recommends using a unique affirmation to be repeated daily and believed in its power. To combat epileptic seizures, Louise suggests the inspiring words: “From now on, I consider life eternal and joyful.” Only the person, acknowledging the problem and sincerely wishing to get rid of it, can change everything.
Epilepsy: Vladimir Zhikarentsev
According to this author, the brain should be viewed as a computer, and the person as a skilled operator capable of independently fixing malfunctions. Zhikarentsev considers the following negative beliefs to be the main causes of brain diseases:
- Lack of or incorrect beliefs;
- Refusal to change old behavioral patterns.
He suggests formulating harmonizing thoughts to gain freedom from illness, based on the idea of “reprogramming” the mind. It’s built on the understanding that life constantly changes, and so should one’s thoughts.
Epilepsy: Lise Bourbeau
Lise Bourbeau considers emotional and mental blockages as the primary causes of brain diseases. She writes that people protect their most important organ from external influences in this way but destroy their own “self.” Brain diseases arise as evidence of lost contact with oneself. The body signals the need to return to reality, even if the patient dislikes it. Calmly perceiving the world, not allowing the disease to destroy the body and undermine the spirit, and being more conscious of life – this is the path to complete recovery. To let go of the disease and fully enjoy life, Lise Bourbeau recommends recognizing one’s individuality, desires, and goals. Only by accepting one’s true nature and stopping distancing from the world or meeting others’ expectations can a person attain mental health.
Epilepsy: Valery Sinelnikov
This folk healer views epilepsy as a result of significant psychological stress, the causes of which are deeply hidden in the subconscious. At the root of epilepsy is a feeling of panic fear, internal struggle, and even the desire to commit violent acts (against oneself or others). The person is so consumed by these thoughts and feelings that the body loses control, and seizures begin. Also, in people prone to convulsions, he found much accumulated aggression, contempt, and hatred. In his treatment, Sinelnikov does not use chemical drugs, believing they only suppress the focus in the brain but do not eliminate it. Sinelnikov’s method involves creating feedback in the brain cortex, where electrical impulses bypass this focus, allowing the affected area to fully recover.
Epileptic Seizures in Children
Epilepsy in children can be caused by the same factors as in adults:
- Genetic predisposition;
- Abnormalities in fetal development;
- Birth-related CNS damage;
- Infectious diseases;
- Traumatic brain injuries. Psychosomatic causes of epilepsy in children are always due to a negative living environment. The psychosomatics of epilepsy in children originate in dysfunctional families and include:
- Prolonged stressful situations in the family;
- Parental aggression directed at the child;
- Violence (psychological or sexual);
- Parents’ alcohol or drug addiction;
- Excessive parental demands;
- Anxiety caused by lack of consistency (unpredictable behavior of relatives).
These factors often lead to epileptic seizures, where children need adult assistance.
First Aid During Epileptic Seizures in Children
The primary danger of seizures with loss of consciousness is head injury. To prevent this, parents should be able to recognize the initial signs of children’s epileptic seizures.
What to do if a child has a seizure:
- Lay them on the floor or bed to prevent a fall;
- Holding their head, turn the child to the side to prevent choking on saliva or vomit;
- Put a handkerchief (any available fabric) between the teeth, but do not block the airway;
- Do not give liquids;
- Note the duration of the seizure;
- Do not pry open the jaws with foreign objects;
- If the child falls asleep after a seizure, do not disturb them, let them sleep. After seizures, parents should consult with the treating doctor and give the child prescribed anticonvulsant medications.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis begins with establishing the clinical picture of the disease. The doctor collects the medical history, determines the form of epilepsy, and orders EEG, CT, or MRI. If necessary, the patient may be referred to geneticists.
Treatment with anticonvulsant drugs lasts at least 3 years and can be combined with psychotherapy, spiritual practices, and other methods to treat psychosomatic causes. This treatment focuses on understanding the psychological causes of epilepsy and working with them, as well as changing the individual’s attitude towards themselves and others.
Epilepsy can also be fought with alternative methods. Among the most effective are hormonal therapy, ketogenic diet, and immunotherapy. However, their prescription is strictly regulated by a doctor, as combining several treatment methods can worsen the patient’s condition and cause side effects.