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Different Types of Seizures

Epilepsy or seizure is a brain disorder that occurs due to improper functioning of the brain cells. The other reasons include brain tumor and an injury to the brain. The misfire caused between the brain cells triggers the shock or seizure attack, where the body tremors and the muscular structure becomes rigid. Fluid flows from the mouth, and the person under attack goes into unconsciousness state. The entire episode lasts from anywhere between 60 seconds and 5 minutes.

Different Types of Seizures

Different Types of Seizures

Although there are many seizures, every attack falls under only two categories – Focal seizure and generalized seizure.

  1. Focal Seizures

    Focal seizures are capable of causing both emotional and physical effects. The attack starts at a particular spot in the brain and the names vary according to these places. About 60% of patients who show signs of epilepsy are prone to focal seizures, which otherwise is also known as a partial seizure. Depending on the symptoms, doctors have further broken down the focal seizures into three groups:

    • Simple Focal Seizure: The simple focal seizure attack changes the senses and how you react to the surroundings. The seizure is capable of changing the smell and taste, along with creating a twitch in arms, fingers, and legs. You may also feel dizziness.
    • Complex Focal Seizure: Complex seizure attack occurs in the brain that controls both memory and emotion. Although the individual loses consciousness, he/she may seem to be awake for others. Additionally, it will take several minutes for an individual to come out of the attack in comparison to a simple focal seizure.
    • Secondary Generalized Seizures: The seizure attack begins at one part of the brain and spreads to the remaining nerve cells in the brain. The person attacked experiences physical symptoms such as muscle slackness and convulsions.
  2. Generalized Seizures

    The occurrence of a generalized seizure happens only when there is a misfire in the nerve cells on both sides of the brain. Symptoms include blackout, muscle spasms, and unconsciousness. Additionally, seizures that begin with a specific kind alter to another. Furthermore, it becomes difficult to classify some of the attacks. Such attacks fall under unknown seizures that cause both physical and sensory symptoms.

    • Tonic-Clonic Seizures: Tonic-Clonic types of seizure attacks are noticeable. The individual shows sign of body trembling, a stiffness of muscle, and goes into unconsciousness state. Such seizure attacks last for a maximum of three minutes. It is vital to seek immediate medical care, as any delay can lead to breathing problems.
    • Clonic Seizures: In this type of seizure attack, arm, face, and neck muscles jerk rhythmically and can last for several minutes.
    • Tonic Seizures: The muscles in legs and arms become stiff and stay in such a state for about 20 seconds. It occurs during the sleep period. However, when you try to stand up during that time, you are sure to lose balance and fall.
    • Atonic Seizures: In atonic seizures, the head moves forward, and the muscles become floppy. If you are holding onto something in such a state, you will drop it immediately. If you are in standing position, you will fall instantly. The seizure attack stays for a maximum of 15 seconds.
    • Myoclonic Seizures: The muscular structure gives a sudden jerk as if you entered into the state of a shock. The occurrence could be the same part as that of the atonic seizure. Few people have both myoclonic and atonic seizures.
    • Absence Seizures: In the case of absence seizures, you feel disconnected with the surroundings and people. You begin to stare blankly, and the eyes roll back into the head. Although it lasts for a few seconds, the person having the attack will not remember anything.


  1. Epilepsy Foundation. (n.d.). What is Epilepsy? https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/about-epilepsy-basics/what-epilepsy
  2. Mayo Clinic. (2022). Epilepsy. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/epilepsy/symptoms-causes/syc-20350093
  3. Epilepsy Society. (n.d.). Types of Seizures. https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/types-seizures#.YTSfz4zbIU
  4. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2021). The Epilepsies and Seizures: Hope Through Research. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Hope-Through-Research/Epilepsies-and-Seizures-Hope-Through
  5. American Epilepsy Society. (n.d.). Types of Seizures. https://www.aesnet.org/patients/about-epilepsy/types-of-seizures
  6. Epilepsy Action. (n.d.). Types of Seizures. https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/info/daily-life/managing-seizures/types-seizures
  7. Epilepsy Foundation. (n.d.). Types of Seizures. https://www.epilepsy.com/learn/types-seizures
  8. MedlinePlus. (2020). Absence Seizures. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000696.htm

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 28, 2023

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