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What Are the Different Types of Seizures?

When a patient is having a seizure, it's imperative for them to receive proper medical treatment. However, before any treatment, healthcare providers need to classify which type of seizures are occurring. Seizures can be divided into two categories: generalized and partial.

Let's define both types for a better understanding of what happens during a seizure and which part of the brain is affected.

Tonic-Clonic Seizures

Typically, a patient will lose consciousness, followed by body stiffening (tonic phase) and then violent jerking (clonic phase). Afterward, the patient will go into a postictal state, which can be compared to deep sleep. It's not uncommon for patients having these types of seizures to bite their tongue or suffer urinary incontinence.


During an absence seizure, patients usually have a blank expression. These types of seizures can end as abruptly as they began. Seizures may occur several times during the day. Most patients are not aware that they are having a seizure and may feel as if they are lost in time.


During an atonic seizure, patients can experience a sudden loss of muscle tone, causing them to fall down.


Myoclonic seizures will cause sporadic movements, usually on both sides of the body simultaneously.

Partial Seizures

Not all seizures force patients to lose consciousness. For this reason, these types of seizures are considered to be partial. During partial seizures, patients may exhibit jerking or spastic movements. They have also had heightening of their senses, including sight, hearing, smell, or touch. Psychologically, they experience a feeling of déjà vu or other emotions such as pleasure or fear. Patients may still have a degree of awareness and know that they are having a seizure.

Complex Partial

Complex partial seizures impair awareness. Patients may seem “out of it” or stare into space without responding when spoken to. They may also exhibit repetitive movements, which include lip-smacking, fidgeting, or chewing.

If you or someone you love is suffering from seizures, you aren't alone. Contact Dr. Amor Mehta, MD today to learn more about how we can help you prevent or limit the occurrence of seizures.