Self-control of epileptic seizures by nonpharmacological strategies

Epilepsy Behav. 2016 Feb:55:157-64. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2015.12.023. Epub 2016 Jan 16.


Despite the unpredictability of epileptic seizures, many patients report that they can anticipate seizure occurrence. Using certain alert symptoms (i.e., auras, prodromes, precipitant factors), patients can adopt behaviors to avoid injury during and after the seizure or may implement spontaneous cognitive and emotional strategies to try to control the seizure itself. From the patient's view point, potential means of enhancing seizure prediction and developing seizure control supports are seen as very important issues, especially when the epilepsy is drug-resistant. In this review, we first describe how some patients anticipate their seizures and whether this is effective in terms of seizure prediction. Secondly, we examine how these anticipatory elements might help patients to prevent or control their seizures and how the patient's neuropsychological profile, specifically parameters of perceived self-control (PSC) and locus of control (LOC), might impact these strategies and quality of life (QOL). Thirdly, we review the external supports that can help patients to better predict seizures. Finally, we look at nonpharmacological means of increasing perceived self-control and achieving potential reduction of seizure frequency (i.e., stress-based and arousal-based strategies). In the past few years, various approaches for detection and control of seizures have gained greater interest, but more research is needed to confirm a positive effect on seizure frequency as well as on QOL.

Keywords: Biofeedback; Cognitive–behavioral therapy; Drug-resistant epilepsy; Perceived self-control; Quality of life; Seizure control; Seizure prediction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arousal / physiology
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Self-Control / psychology*