What Are the Differences Between Seizure Disorders and Epilepsy?


Quick Answer

A seizure disorder refers to any medical condition having seizures as a symptom, including epilepsy, according to WebMD. Epileptic seizures are those specifically due to a disruption of the nerve cells in the brain.

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Full Answer

People often use the terms "epilepsy" and "seizure disorder" interchangeably, but seizures occur for other reasons, explains WebMD. Non-epileptic seizures are those that have no central nervous system involvement. Non-epileptic seizures are often related to a mental health issue. Mental or emotional stress typically trigger these psychogenic seizures. Symptoms of non-epileptic seizures are impaired movement, poor coordination, temporary visual impairment, impairment of the sense of smell or touch, or skin tingling. Most patients experience only one symptom but in different locations or with different degrees of intensity with each recurrence.

Individuals with epilepsy experience many of the same symptoms as those with non-epileptic seizures, but epileptic seizures are due to disruptions in the central nervous system, says Mayo Clinic. Like non-epileptic seizures, individuals with epilepsy tend to experience the same symptom or same type of seizure every time.

Epileptic seizures are treatable with medication, but this medication is not effective for non-epileptic seizures, states WebMD. Doctors must aim treatment for epileptic seizures at the specific mental or emotional stressors causing the seizure.

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