Types of Epilepsy


Getting To Know Epilepsy

Known as the occurrence of sporadic seizures that start in the brain, upon diagnosis of epilepsy, one of the common types of epilepsy may be referred to:

Idiopathic Epilepsy – Generalized

There may be a history within the family. Although diagnosis may not occur until adulthood, it tends to appear during childhood. There are no abnormalities, other than the seizures, that can be identified on an MRI or EEG, although some research may reveal scarring or subtle changes in the brain since birth. People with this type of epilepsy have normal intelligence.

Types of epilepsy seizures that may affect people with idiopathic generalized epilepsy:

  • Myoclonic
  • Absence
  • Generalized tonic-clonic

Idiopathic generalized epilepsy can generally be treated with medications. People sometimes outgrow this and stop having the seizures. This may also be the case with childhood absence epilepsy and juvenile myoclonic epilepsy.

Idiopathic Epilepsy – Partial

Idiopathic partial epilepsy starts during childhood. It also may be attributed to family history. It is one of the milder types of epilepsy, as it is commonly outgrown by puberty and never diagnosed in adulthood. The seizures usually occur during sleep and are simple motor seizures involving the face as well as secondarily generalized seizures.

Symptomatic Epilepsy – Generalized

Caused by widespread damage within the brain. The most common cause is injury during birth. These people have other neurological issues in addition to seizures. Mental retardation or cerebral palsy are just a couple. When the cause of symptomatic generalized epilepsy cannot be identified, it may be cryptogenic epilepsy. These epilepsies include various subtypes. The types of seizures mentioned above are common and can be hard to control.

Symptomatic Epilepsy – Partial

Symptomatic partial epilepsy is the most common epilepsy starting in adulthood; however, it does also occur as one of the types of epilepsy in children. Caused by abnormality of the brain in a localized location, it can be the result of a tumor, trauma, congenital brain abnormalities, cysts, or infections. Because the brain abnormalities are microscopic, they often cannot be identifiable on MRI scans. Successful treatment through surgery is possible. It’s aimed at removal of the abnormal area of the brain without compromise of the rest of the brain.


With various types of epilepsy and seizures, it’s no wonder there are more approaches and treatments being developed. Being free of seizures without adverse effects from the treatments is the goal. In more than 60% of patients, this goal is accomplished in those requiring anticonvulsant treatment. There are many other patients that do experience adverse effects from these therapies. Monotherapy decreases the likelihood of adverse effects and avoids drug interactions, therefore it is desirable. Monotherapy may also be less expensive than polytherapy.

Over the past years, treatment options have improved. Although there is no cure for epilepsy, it can generally be managed well with the right treatment. The important thing is to understand all available options to find the right treatment to manage the circumstance most effectively.