Epilepsy is a neurological condition where an abnormal electrical activity happens in the brain causing seizures (also known as fits). What people experience during a seizure depends on where the epileptic activity takes place in the brain.
There are two types of seizure – partial and generalised (often referred to as petit mal and grand mal).
In simple terms, with partial seizures the person will remain conscious and may report:
In a more complex partial seizure, a person will be unaware of what is happening and will not be able to remember afterwards. They may display behaviour such as:
In a generalised seizure, a person will suddenly become completely unconscious, experiencing physical seizures for a sustained period of a few minutes, and be subsequently unaware of events following recovery.
A significant number of people with epilepsy experience photosensitive epilepsy, where seizures are triggered by flashing or flickering light (eg. strobe lighting, unprotected computer screens).
Others can experience nocturnal epilepsy, where seizures tend to only occur during sleep.
Approximately 25,000 people in Australia are diagnosed with epilepsy each year.