Have you ever heard of stress causing seizures? Although you may not have, there are many cases of seizures being caused by stress.
What Is a Seizure?
When someone experiences a temporary loss of control, they are suffering a seizure. Some people may become unconscious, have abnormal body movements, or feel strange body sensations. Others may experience all of the reactions, a combination of them, or none at all.
There are many different forms of seizures, with many different causes. One of the causes of some seizures, especially for people with a low seizure threshold, is stress. People suffering from epilepsy increase their risk of seizure 30 percent when stress increases.
Stress and Epileptic Seizures
When a person has an epileptic seizure, the electrical functions of the brain are not working properly. The normal pattern of electrical charges is suddenly disrupted by a burst of abnormal electrical discharges that affect body functions.
If a person suffers from epilepsy, it is important that they avoid unusual stress in their lives. Both mental and physical stress cause changes in the body, increasing the brain's excitability and activity.
The type of stress that triggers epileptic seizures most often is mental or emotional stress. The most common emotions found to increase the chance of seizure include:
Stress and Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures
A seizure that occurs in a person who does not suffer from epilepsy is called a psychogenic non-epileptic seizure. Although the seizure often appears to mimic an epileptic seizure, it is not caused by abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Often people that have psychogenic non-epileptic seizures are misdiagnosed as having epilepsy. The causes of a psychogenic non-epileptic seizure, also known as a PNES or pseudo seizure, are emotional or stress related. This type of seizure can also result from experiences from the past that seem forgotten but had a traumatic psychological effect at the time. Other stress related causes of PNES include:
- Conversion disorder - the seizures themselves are the physical symptoms converted from the emotional distress
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Acute stress that overwhelms the person's ability to cope
When a psychogenic non-epileptic seizure occurs it is not being consciously produced by the person. When stress builds to extreme levels and results in a seizure, it is the only way for the body to cope with the stress. For people suffering fro post traumatic stress disorder it is the body's way of manifesting the stress that resulted from the trauma, even if it occurred long ago.
Methods of Relief for Stress Causing Seizures
Learning relaxation techniques and methods of stress reduction helps to decrease the affects stress has on your body and your mind. While not every method is effective for every person, understanding different techniques can help you find one that will work for you.
- Practicing yoga to relax muscle tension and focus the mind.
- Meditation is a wonderful way to relax your mind
- Deep breathing exercises are a quick and effective way to reduce stress and can be done almost anywhere and at any time.
- Progressive muscle relaxation, perhaps coupled with meditation.
- Visualization or guided relaxation techniques.
- Setting aside time for a favorite hobby gives you a break from the stress of daily life.
- Biofeedback is a method of gaining information about ourselves by using machines to monitor our physiological reactions. The resulting information is used to develop life patterns that are more comfortable and healthier.
- Acupressure and acupuncture techniques.
- Aromatherapy treatments with scented candles, oils, or other aromas, perhaps combined with massage or meditation.
- Homeopathic therapy to treat individual symptoms.
- Affirmations of the positive aspects of your life and personality and other positive thinking techniques.
- Whether you love working out at the gym, taking a brisk walk, or playing a game of tennis, exercise is a natural stress reliever.
Using stress reduction methods and relaxation techniques are excellent ways to reduce stress causing seizures to become less frequent. However, before starting any regimen of relaxation techniques or stress reduction methods, always make sure to get the approval of your physician, particularly to ensure that your seizures are not the result of other medical conditions.