A Beginner’s Guide to Seizures


When most people think of epilepsy or seizures they think of those big seizures that they see in movies or television (a very inaccurate picture by the way). You know the scene where some actor or actress falls to the ground, starting foaming at the mouth, and begin to shake on the ground. While this does represent one kind of a seizure it is important to know there is more than one kind of seizure and if you aren’t informed and know how to spot them then you may not be able to get the help someone may need. So below is your quick guide to seizures. We will save the kind you probably already know for last.

Absence Seizure

The absence seizure is by far the hardest to spot. (Note the person in the video is not me. I found this on YouTube) We theorize I had been having these for years before I was officially diagnosed. We had no idea I was having them. A person having this kind of seizure mentally checks out for about 15 seconds. It is not unusual for a person with these to have over 100 in a single day. When you add all those up you can understand why this might be a problem. There is all this lost time you can’t account for. Because of this kind of seizure my school grades suffered tremendously. I missed key parts of the teacher’s lesson, homework assignments, and teacher’s even thought I was ignoring them on occasion. I went from a B student to barely being able to maintain a D. I was missing so much of my classes that I just couldn’t keep up. I would literally cry over homework I couldn’t comprehend or be in tears when I found out I was missing a whole slew of assignments. So if you look at a person and their eyes just seem empty, like they aren’t there, and seconds later they are back to “normal” it is possible they are having absence seizures. Ask them if they have seizures or if they heard what you said. It’s possible they aren’t aware they are having them and you could be the reason they go get checked out and receive the help they need.

Simple Partial Seizure

The simple partial seizure can throw someone off when they see one. During this one the person having the seizure is conscious and in many cases can talk well enough to tell you what is going on. They may be a bit shaky, sweaty, and their emotions may even be altered a bit. Afterward, it isn’t unusual for them to be tired. They will most likely just want to go home after one of these and unless this is a first seizure for them it shouldn’t be necessary to call 911. Instead, call a family member or friend who can come pick them up and take them home. The epileptic’s first priority is always resting as seizures are often exhausting. They will talk to the doctor at their earliest convenience and any tests or changes that need to be made will be made. The above video shows an actual simple partial seizure.

Complex Partial Seizure

Complex partial seizures look similar to the simple partial but affect a larger portion of the brain. Because of this the person having this kind of seizure isn’t really conscious. They may continue to stand but mentally they aren’t there. When I had these I was often confused afterward and emotional. I would usually a need at least 24 hours to recover. The above video shows a complex partial.

Atonic Seizures(Drop Seizures)

This one doesn’t long about 15 seconds. It is just a brief loss of muscle tone which causes you to fall or for your head to drop. Thinking back on it I had these and didn’t realize it. I just chalked it up to my clumsiness. Just make sure they are okay and help them back up.


Clonic Seizure

Clonic seizures as seen in the video above are known for their rhythmic jerking. This would be the main symptom and this kind of seizure is much rarer. These can typically last one to two minutes. The jerking here is more regular and sustained than a myoclonic seizure. For this make sure there is nothing in the way they could hurt themselves on and when the seizure ends roll them onto their side. Call a loved one or friend to come to get them. This person will know whether a hospital trip is necessary or not.

Myoclonic Seizure

Myoclonic seizures are very brief and are the short contractions of a muscle group. Like the arms as pictured in the video above. Just wait patiently for the seizure to end, check to make sure they are okay when it’s over, and contact a loved one or friend to come to get them.

Tonic Seizure

These seizures are characterized by a stiffening in the body. They don’t usually last long and don’t usually need first aid unless they lose consciousness. You will want to make sure that someone who knows about their condition knows, but if they are an adult they may very well be able to handle things on their own. Although if you ask how you may help they won’t mind.

Tonic-Clonic/Gran mal Seizures

These are the seizures you may be more familiar with. The video above pretty much covers it all. The person may be very tired and will want to sleep after. Please don’t call 911 unless absolutely necessary as stated in the video. Doing so when it is not necessary will just keep them from getting the rest they need!
There is your crash course on seizures. Hopefully, you are more prepared to spot one and help if necessary. November is Epilepsy awareness month. Share this to spread awareness and wear purple in November to show support! Warriors with A Pen will be selling Epilepsy Awareness Swag in the near future! Please like our Facebook page or keep an eye on our website to be the first to know when they are for sale!


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  1. !You could be a little generalizing. Could you write more about this for me please? :)|

    1. susanthomas1984 says:

      I realize this may be generalizing a bit and that was intentional. This was only met as a brief beginners guide and for it to apply to a larger portion of people with epilepsy it seemed necessary to generalize it. Epilepsy varies so greatly from person to person. I would love to write more. Do you perhaps have any specific questions or topics you would like to see some blog posts on? Always looking for topics. 🙂

  2. You come off a bit out of context-you should explain better?|

    1. susanthomas1984 says:

      Thank you for your feedback. I would love to update this article and explain better. Could you please clarify what you mean so I may do so?

  3. that’s an obtuse argument you have there!

    1. susanthomas1984 says:

      Argument? No one here is arguing. This article is meant as a brief introductory article to the kinds of epileptic seizures. It is by no means meant to persuade or argue anything. If you wish to have an argument may I suggest you try trolling on Facebook? This isn’t the place for that and since you have no helpful questions for me to clarify or answer I suggest you move on. If you try and continue arguing on an article that is only meant to inform and spread awareness your comments will be deleted instead of approved. Thank you.

  4. Mummy says:

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