Generalized Seizures

If you have this type of seizure, your whole brain is involved and you lose consciousness. The seizure may then take one of the following five forms:

  • In a generalized tonic-clonic convulsive seizure (previously called “grand mal” seizure), you become rigid, and may fall if standing. Your muscles switch between periods of spasm and relaxation with jerking motions. You may bite your tongue. Your breathing is labored and you may urinate or defecate involuntarily.
  • In a tonic seizure, your muscles generally stiffen without rhythmical jerking. This stiffening or rigidity also involves the breathing muscles and you may cry out or moan.
  • In an atonic seizure (also known as a drop attack), your muscle control is suddenly lost, causing you to fall if you are standing.
  • In a myoclonic seizure, your limbs jerk abruptly. These seizures often occur soon after you wake up, either on their own or with other forms of a generalized seizure.
  • In an absence seizure, your consciousness is briefly interrupted, with no other signs, except perhaps for a fluttering of your eyelids. These seizures happen most often in children and are sometimes known as “petit mal” seizures.