Can Panic Attacks Cause Seizures?

It’s important to distinguish between panic attacks and seizures first, before addressing this question specifically. Panic attacks have been associated with seizure but much of the medical information on this subject focuses on trying to find physiological and chemical causes for seizures. If the path leads back to changes brought on by panic attacks then the doctor can work with the patient to deal with both the onset of panic and the following physical problems.

Doctors use great care to distinguish between a seizure disorder and an illness that might be psychiatric in nature. The percentages seem to be very small when medical researchers compile information about these two issues. It’s hard to make final determinations based on so small a sample from the larger population. Even now, after decades of careful study, doctors state that it is very difficult to distinguish between seizure disorder and conditions that might have other causes.

One thing that makes this even more difficult is that symptoms during a “partial” seizure are very similar to the symptoms of panic disorder. Doctors hesitate to conduct complex tests in every panic-disorder patient because it takes so much time and careful observation to uncover a partial seizure. Years of medical research also indicate that seizure disorders generally show up when the person is a child. Panic disorder is usually associated with young adults.

Medical personnel base a lot of their thinking on what the patient reports about a panic attack. The individual might describe something similar to a seizure but extensive testing might show that this really didn’t occur. Can Panic Attacks Cause SeizuresAccording to epilepsy.com “A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain that usually affects how a person feels or acts for a short time. Seizures are not a disease in themselves. Instead, they are a symptom of many different disorders that can affect the brain. Some seizures can hardly be noticed, while others are totally disabling.”

But is important to recognize how different seizures and panic attacks are based on how they are treated medically. Doctors find that panic disorder responds to a certain category of prescription drug (anxiolytic) while seizure disorder responds to anti-convulsant drugs and not to anxiolytic drugs.

A few individuals have reported that they did indeed “act” in a manner that seemed to indicate seizure immediately after a panic attack. It is certainly possible, some doctors say, that extreme physical changes during a panic attack (heart rate, breathing difficulties, some changes in chemical levels in the body) could be extreme enough to cause a “sudden surge of electrical activity” in the brain that characterizes a seizure.

In summary, medical research has not established a definite connection between panic attacks and seizures, but in some individuals a propensity toward seizure activity could result from intense changes in the body that occur during panic attack.

Category: Mental Health

4 Comments on “Can Panic Attacks Cause Seizures?”


Tara wrote:

I have epilepsy and i also suffer from panic attacks, they are both medicated
Epilepsy-Keppra
Panic attacks-Lexapro and Avanza
I have been on these medications for at least four year but in the last two years I have been suffering from these weird turns at first they only occurred while i was sleeping but now i get them everyday asleep or awake.

The symptoms are like I’m looking for something, I will be sitting down watching TV or sleeping and when they come on I immediately get up, my heart races incredibly fast and i start walking around the house or where ever i am looking for something but i have no idea what I’m looking for, half the time I don’t even realize what I’m doing, My partner said that when they start to occur my pupils become very big and that I don’t respond to him at all.
I have been to the Neurologist many times, she doesn’t really know whats going on, I have been send for sleep disorder tests but I haven’t had one while i was there so nothing shows up.

I am really starting to worry as they are happening more and more often, I’m pregnant and due soon, I’ve also recently got my learners and I’d really like to know what is happening and how it can be helped soon because the last thing I want is to have one while driving or looking after my new baby.
Can you please help me??????

From Tara Jean

Corey wrote:

Hello!! I’m 22 years old an I’m in the Army. I had my first panic attack about 2 months ago. This article really helped me out because at first I confused my panic attack with a heart attack or seizure. I found out later that I suffer from anxiety but ever sense that day have been wondering if it was possible for a panic attack to cause a seizure.

misty wrote:

I had a seizure some time during summer. My friend had broke his hand and had screws in it. It freaked me out and I started having what I think was a panic attack. I felt like I wasn’t in reality and I couldn’t breathe. I immediately knew something was wrong. The next thing I know I wake up and my friend tells me I had a seizure. I had never had one before so it was really scary. Now lately, I have felt that way again but haven’t actually seized. I’m being told that these are panic attacks. Can a panic attack cause a seizure? Should I see a doctor?

Nikki wrote:

Tara when you’re on a med for a long time side effects tend to accrue I’m not a doctor but a young adult with panic attack/seizures so I suggest you change your meds because being on a certain med for to long tends to have side effects if not already.

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