There are several different types of seizures. Most seizures can be categorized as either focal or generalized.
1. Focal (or partial) seizures
Focal (or partial) seizures occur when seizure activity is limited to a part of one brain hemisphere. There is a site, or a focus, in the brain where the seizure begins. There are two types of focal seizures:
- Focal seizures with retained awareness This type of focal seizure was previously known as a simple partial seizure.
- Focal seizures with a loss awareness This type of focal seizure may also be called a focal dyscognitive seizure (previously known as complex partial seizures)
If you have epilepsy, ask your healthcare provider to explain what type of seizures you have. Learning the names and terms for your seizure type(s) can help you describe it accurately to others.
2. Generalized Seizures
Generalized seizures occur when there is widespread seizure activity in the left and right hemispheres of the brain. The different types of generalized seizures are:
- absence seizures (formerly known as petit mal)
- tonic-clonic or convulsive seizures (formerly known as grand mal)
- atonic seizures (also known as drop attacks)
- clonic seizures
- tonic seizures
- myoclonic seizures
Additional Seizure Types
Infantile spasms are a type of epilepsy seizure but they do not fit into the category of focal or generalized seizures.Psychogenic Non-epileptic Seizures (PNES)
Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures are not due to epilepsy but may look very similar to an epilepsy seizure.