Is this a seizure?
April 9, 2005 9:17 PM   Subscribe

My brother was in an argument with our mother, and he said something in his head 'popped', and he started shaking and convulsing. What happened?

I wasn' t here when it happened, so I can't give any more details than that. He's already en route to the hospital, and he was lucid and talkative when I saw him, although he was a bit twitchy and his pupils were saucer-sized.

Is this a seisure, caused by the stress of an argument? A popped blood vessel? Something else entirely? We don't have a history of epilepsy or anything along those lines in the family.
posted by Jairus to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Jairus, I know you're (naturally) very worried about your brother, but there's just no way any of us here can give you a diagnosis. It could be a seizure (I've had friends who have had those). It could be an aneurysm (I've had friends who have had those too). It could be something else entirely (ditto). Right now, you really can't do anything except wait it out (as terribly difficult as it feels to do that) and see what the doctors say -- they're the experts, they're the ones treating your brother. No one here can really say what's going on, and so can't give you any meaningful advice or reassurance until you've got more to go on. My fingers are crossed for your brother in the meantime. Hang in there.
posted by scody at 9:35 PM on April 9, 2005

Is your brother on any medications? I'm thinking specifically of Wellbutrin, which has been known to cause seizures. There are other causes of seizures besides epilepsy and meds, but I'm no expert and I don't want to mention anything that might not be the true cause. I hope everything turns out ok.
posted by veronitron at 9:35 PM on April 9, 2005

Just because there is no history of grand mal seizures that would obviously be identified as epilepsy does not mean that epilepsy does not run in your family. There are many kinds of seizures and epilepsy. I have seen anger and agression often associated with seizures; I get a ton of google results for "seizures anger," including:

"Emotional stress also can lead to seizures. Emotional is usually related to a situation or event that has personal meaning to you. Often you will feel a loss of control. ... Other emotions that have been linked with stress and seizures are frustration and anger."
posted by scazza at 10:10 PM on April 9, 2005

Also, I know there is a MeFite who is a neurologist ikkyu2, if you want to actually ask someone who knows anything.
posted by scazza at 10:21 PM on April 9, 2005

Best answer: It may be what is classed as a non-epileptic seizure, which can have various causes. Note that in both cases stress is an associated trigger factor.

I think you're best off waiting for the tests and diagnosis. We're just speculating and we can't really make you feel any better about this, except to wish your brother good luck.
posted by dhartung at 11:15 PM on April 9, 2005

Response by poster: dhartung, that link was very helpful. Thank you very much.
posted by Jairus at 12:47 AM on April 10, 2005

"Eyes like saucers" does not sound very good at all. This sounds like something more dire than a seizure.
posted by yclipse at 5:05 AM on April 10, 2005

Maybe what I have heard described as an hysterical fit, brought on by stress.

I saw this happen to a guy sitting in a chair right next to me. He was being laid off from work (for being completely ineffective - he really did do nothing all day, and had had breakdowns before). His eyes closed, he groaned, exploded into sweat, shook and twitched, then recovered. He had no memory of the event having taken place, just said `Sorry, I lost track for a moment there'. The episode had taken a couple of minutes, and was very disturbing.

It sounds a bit like what happened here? Seizure induced by a highly stressful situation. Definitely a good case for medical examination. Hope it all works out well.
posted by tomble at 6:37 AM on April 10, 2005

I have an epileptic seizure disorder, which arrived without warning and without any family history. Because of the highly subjective nature of the experience, it can be very difficult for your brother to describe what is happening to him in a way that will make sense to others, ie, it's probably not a literal "pop" of a blood vessel or something. It sounds very different from my seizures, but there are several varieties and variations.

Either way, take him to his doctor and get him checked out. Your GP will probably recommend a neurologist, who will probably run an EEG, which was very helpful in my diagnosis. is a fantastic resource for...pretty much everything. They have a whole section devoted to discussing symptoms with your doctor, for example. 15+ years after my diagnosis, I still find the site helpful.

Finally, please know that treatment is available, and in my case, works fantastically for years and years. Your brother is probably terrified-- take this seriously, but also keep your chin up, it will help him a lot. Best of luck.
posted by samh23 at 5:26 PM on April 10, 2005

I'm afraid there's not enough information here for me to add anything useful. With a story like this, though, a careful neurologic exam and a CT scan of the brain would be where to start, in case of aneurysm rupture. Delaying medical attention even for an hour is a bad move.

However, most cases that I send for evaluation of this sort turn out to have been something else.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:46 AM on April 12, 2005

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