Brain Cell Damage Due to Epilepsy?

Bill Skaggs skaggs at bns.pitt.edu
Thu Feb 3 12:19:47 EST 2000

"wayne" <wayne-pierce at email.msn.com> writes:

> When I began to have seizures around five years ago, I suddenly became
> extremely emotional and my thought processes changed. A psychiatrist told me
> that the change in sensitivity was due to the seizures. I have also read
> somewhere that seizures can cause brain damage. Any comments would be
> appreciated.
> Thanks,   Wayne

Well, seizures can indeed cause brain damage, but usually not unless
they are very frequent (i.e., several times per day), and even then,
as I understand it, the damage builds up gradually, over the course of
months or years.  It's unlikely that the sudden change you experienced
was caused by brain damage.

It's pretty clear that seizures in and of themselves, without brain
damage, can have strong effects on mood.  For one thing, artificially
induced seizures (ECT) have long been known to be a very effective
treatment for depression.  (Nobody knows how this treatment works,
though.)  For another thing, one of the most seizure-prone parts of
the brain is the amygdala, which plays a very important role in
emotion.  Seizures that affect the amygdala or the neighboring
temporal lobe are sometimes associated with emotional outbursts.

There are a number of different possible causes of seizures.  In many
cases, they are caused by abnormal electrical activity in some part of
the brain, and the abnormal activity can express itself to some degree
even apart from full-blown seizures.  Something of this sort would
very likely show up on an EEG, which undoubtedly has been performed on
you several times.  If the EEG showed abnormal activity in the
temporal lobes, this would certainly be consistent with the story
you're telling.

The most important question I would want to know the answer to is,
what caused the seizures in the first place?

	-- Bill

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net