Can you get seizures from PTSD?

Yes, seizures can be caused by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seizures that result from PTSD are known as Posttraumatic Epilepsy (PTE) and can occur in the days, weeks or even months after a traumatic event. PTE is often characterized by sudden and brief episodes of uncontrolled shaking or convulsions which usually lasts a few seconds to minutes. Common triggers for PTE include strong emotions such as fear or anxiety, certain smells or sounds associated with the trauma, as well as alcohol and drug withdrawal. Individuals who experience chronic severe PTSD may also have increased susceptibility to seizures due to changes in brain chemistry from years of elevated stress hormones. Treatment for PTE typically includes medications that help reduce seizure activity and psychotherapy to address underlying PTSD symptoms.

The Different Types of Seizures

When it comes to PTSD, there are many types of seizures that can be experienced. Often times these epileptic episodes come in the form of generalized seizures which can involve an entire part or all of the body at once. This type of seizure may cause a person to experience muscle twitching, sudden jerking movements, and momentary loss of consciousness. Other common forms are focal seizures, where either one side or area of the body is affected by the event, and absence seizures that involve lapses in consciousness which may last anywhere from a few seconds to minutes.

More serious types of seizure activity associated with PTSD include status epilepticus which is when multiple fits occur without respite over a longer period or no break between them. These events can cause varying levels of unconsciousness, strange behaviors such as lip smacking and odd postures being adopted; as well as different levels of disorientation during recovery time afterwards. Finally there is complex partial epilepsy – also known as psychomotor epilepsy – which has symptoms similar to those seen with basic focal seizures but they tend to last much longer and individuals may not be aware that something has happened during the episode due to impaired memory recall afterwards.

Medication such as anticonvulsants will usually be given for prevention purposes but it’s important that psychological treatment for the initial source stressor be sought too in order to gain maximum benefit. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) methods have been found particularly useful here; allowing clients to identify triggers more easily and thereby reduce frequency or prevent future episodes occurring altogether if possible.

Symptoms of PTSD and Their Effects

When someone has PTSD, they usually exhibit a wide range of symptoms that can drastically affect their lives. One of the more serious consequences is the potential for seizures. While it may not be common, it is important to understand how this condition can lead to seizures in individuals suffering from PTSD.

The most obvious symptom associated with PTSD is heightened levels of anxiety and stress. Although these are often considered normal reactions to traumatic experiences, an increase in tension could cause an individual’s nervous system to become overworked. This increased strain on the brain can lead to a person having seizures as the body releases energy too quickly and uncontrollably. Seizures can also result from any underlying physical conditions due to trauma such as damage or inflammation caused by head injuries or direct contact with toxins like chlorine gas.

Another way that PTSD-related seizures could occur is through drug abuse or substance misuse as self-medication for depression, chronic pain, and other debilitating mental issues related to trauma exposure. People who have difficulty managing emotions may turn to drugs or alcohol as a coping strategy which can put them at risk of experiencing convulsions due to intoxication or withdrawal from those substances. It should be noted that there are medical treatments available for those with long-term issues related to PTSD-related seizure activity; however prevention should remain top priority for anyone struggling with this disorder so that complications do not arise in the first place.

The Relationship Between PTSD and Seizures

It is well known that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be a debilitating condition for many individuals. But it has been recently discovered that those suffering from PTSD are more likely to experience seizures as a result of their condition. While PTSD can often lead to psychological symptoms such as intense fear, anxiety, and hypervigilance, these effects can have physical consequences as well. Specifically, research suggests there may be an increased risk of developing seizures due to high levels of tension associated with the disorder.

The link between PTSD and seizures was further established in a study conducted by Stanford University’s Department of Psychiatry which found that veterans with PTSD had twice the chance of experiencing convulsive seizures compared to non-veterans without PTSD. Even more surprising is that while researchers initially believed the risk increase only applied to individuals with severe cases of PTSD, it was later revealed even milder forms could prove just as dangerous when it came to seizure incidence.

Though the correlation between PTSS and seizure occurrence still remains largely unknown, certain findings suggest that epigenetic changes may play a role in this relationship. These modifications occur when environmental factors alter gene expression without actually changing genetic code; thus causing changes on how an individual’s brain works which could possibly explain why some people affected by traumatic events are at higher risk for developing seizures than others who were exposed but did not suffer from any form of mental disorder afterwards. More research is needed however before definitive conclusions can be made about this connection yet these initial investigations offer insight into what might potentially contribute towards seizure activity in individuals diagnosed with PTSD or similar conditions.

PTSD Triggers That Can Cause Seizures

Seizures can be caused by a variety of triggers, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can sometimes be one of them. Seizures associated with PTSD are called psychomotor epilepsy or nonepileptic seizures. It is believed that these kinds of seizures occur when the body experiences a powerful emotional response to a traumatic event or experience. The sufferer’s sympathetic nervous system reacts by sending an overwhelming surge of energy throughout the body, leading to the seizure.

There are many potential triggers for PTSD-related seizures; most often they come in the form of unexpected memories, images, smells and sounds that bring back painful memories. In some cases, people may also have physical reactions such as rapid heart rate and sweating when they experience something related to their trauma. People may also experience strong emotions that can lead to episodes during which they feel anxious or overwhelmed with fear. These episodes can cause confusion and disorientation which could trigger an epileptic seizure in susceptible individuals.

It is important for those dealing with PTSD-related seizures to learn how to cope with these triggers in order to avoid any further complications. Coping mechanisms such as mindfulness meditation, cognitive restructuring therapies and exercise can help to reduce stress levels and improve overall wellbeing, making it easier for patients to manage their symptoms without exacerbating them into full-blown seizures. While it is not possible to completely eliminate all triggers from your environment or lifestyle, learning how to effectively deal with them will certainly help you better manage your condition and live healthier lives going forward.

Drug Treatment for Seizures Caused by PTSD

Most people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience emotional and mental distress. Unfortunately, some may suffer from seizures, too. Depending on the severity of their condition, they may require medication to help prevent future episodes. While medication has its risks and side effects, it can be an effective way to manage or eliminate recurrent seizure activity brought on by PTSD.

Anticonvulsant drugs are typically used to stop or prevent further seizures in individuals with PTSD-induced epilepsy. These medications not only limit damage caused by electrical abnormalities in the brain, but also reduce associated anxiety and depression that accompanies a PTSD diagnosis. Common anticonvulsants include carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenytoin (Dilantin), valproic acid (Depakote), topiramate (Topamax), gabapentin (Neurontin) and lamotrigine (Lamictal). These drugs may take several weeks for full effectiveness as well as cause mild adverse reactions such as dizziness, fatigue and nausea. If any occur, a doctor should be consulted immediately for adjustments to one’s dosage schedule or treatment plan if necessary.

Other forms of pharmacological therapy may involve mood stabilizers or antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors which increase levels of serotonin – the “feel good” neurotransmitter produced naturally within our brains – helping improve patient symptoms such as sleep disturbances associated with seizures induced by PTSD. A combination of two drugs like Depakote and Prozac has proven successful when treating patients suffering from both PTSD and recurrent seizures; however there is no single course of drug therapy that works best for everyone struggling with these conditions so consultation with a physician is highly encouraged prior to initiating any form of treatment plan.

Non-Pharmacological Treatments for Comorbid PTSD-Seizure Patients

For patients who suffer from comorbid Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and seizures, a multifaceted treatment plan is needed to provide the best possible outcomes. Non-pharmacological treatments have proven to be beneficial in some cases, primarily through modulating risk factors related to trauma or underlying conditions associated with seizure development. Various forms of psychotherapy are beneficial for treating PTSD, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT).

These therapies focus on helping patients process traumatic memories, cope better with stressors and identify triggers of PTSD symptoms that can potentially lead to seizures. A more targeted approach involves Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy which focuses on producing physiological changes in the brain. It helps reduce the intensity of disturbing images or thoughts related to a traumatic event and teaches the patient how to respond differently in similar situations. Art therapy can also help in developing coping skills related to trauma processing by providing an outlet for creative expression such as drawing or painting about their experiences.

More passive approaches include yoga which addresses mind-body connection by combining physical exercise with meditation practice that encourages relaxation techniques that can aid in reducing PTSD symptoms as well as seizure activity. Hypnosis has been used as an adjunctive treatment for both conditions due its ability to alter conscious awareness levels while enabling release of psychological tensions stored at a subconscious level. Finally biofeedback may prove useful since it is based on learning self-regulation techniques like stress reduction methods enabling patient control over automatic responses triggered during episodes of high arousal states associated with PTSD flares ups often linked to increased risk of seizures.

Living with Comorbid PTSD-Seizure Disorder

It is not uncommon for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to also suffer from seizures. The combination of these two conditions, known as comorbid PTSD-seizure disorder, presents unique challenges in living a healthy and productive life. Those affected must learn how to manage both disorders separately while recognizing their link.

Living with this combination of conditions can be incredibly difficult for the person involved. It is important that they are properly diagnosed so that the correct treatment and lifestyle changes can be put into place. This includes making sure there is adequate supervision when having a seizure or being aware of potentially triggering situations before they occur. As well, it is essential that proper rest and nutrition are taken care of in order to minimize any potential triggers or episodes. Keeping track of medication dosages and tracking triggers with a journal can help those struggling understand what their particular patterns may be like and identify ways to make adjustments in order to keep them better managed going forward.

It’s important that those managing comorbid PTSD-seizure disorder have access to emotional support systems so that they don’t feel alone during difficult times or when dealing with unexpected flare ups. Having an understanding friend or family member who can provide encouragement and helpful reminders can go a long way towards keeping individuals on track as they adjust to living with this dual diagnosis.

About the author.
Jay Roberts is the founder of the Debox Method and after nearly 10 years and hundreds of sessions, an expert in the art of emotional release to remove the negative effects of trauma. Through his book, courses, coaching, and talks Jay’s goal is to teach as many people as he can the power of the Debox Method. 

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