The Future Of Treating Canine Seizures
Compared to humans, who can monitor what they feel and what happened prior to a seizure, pet parents have limitations on monitoring their dogs seizures. The AKC Canine Health Foundation says preliminary research on intracranial electroencephalography in dogs suggests that the technique might be a way to predict seizures, which has the potential to be incredibly helpful for individuals who currently suffer from seemingly random epileptic events.
There are many causes of canine seizures, but there are many ways to treat them, prevent them in many cases, and help your dog live a long, happy, healthy life.
How Stress Can Lead To Seizures
A new study finds that one-third of patients admitted to the epilepsy unit are not actually suffering from epileptic seizures: theyre suffering from stress.
As if we werent already stressed out enough about our stress levels, a new study reports that over a third of seizures in patients admitted to the Johns Hopkins in-patient epilepsy unit are actually psychogenic in nature, rather than epileptic. This means that the seizures were actually physical manifestations of emotional stress, and not the result of abnormal electrical activity in the brain, as with epilepsy. The psychogenic seizures in these patients were strongly linked to life stresses or, more specifically, to the methods the people used to cope with their stressors.
The team studied 40 healthy people, 20 people with confirmed epilepsy, and 40 people who had experienced psychogenic non-epileptic seizures . The participants filled out questionnaires to determine which coping style they tended to use, ranging from active coping to denial to religious coping to humor to behavioral or mental disengagement. They also indicated how many of 102 stressful life events theyd been through in the last five years, in the areas of family, legal matters, finances, work, and marriage.
The authors had wagered that the PNES patients would have had more life stressors than controls or epileptic patients, since previous research had suggested the connection.
But this was not what they found.
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Our findings suggest that the visibility of patient-related aspects such as severe physical comorbidity and also mental comorbidity may establish whether GPs refer constantly clinically seizure meds and depression depressed patients to mental healthcare experts. Evidence for therapy of chronically clinically depressed people with comorbidity is still restricted.
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Tips To Avoid Stress Induced Seizures
If you get stress seizures, there are plenty of things you can do to tackle the causes and symptoms of stress:
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Epigenetic Modification Is A Shared Pathogenic Substrate Of Both Early
As stated above, epigenetic modifications underpin the programming effects of early-life stress. Interestingly, a wealth of evidence indicates that dysregulation of epigenetic mechanisms occurs in several human epilepsy syndromes. Epigenetic mechanisms can influence the acute deployment of genes resulting from seizures themselves or can have gradual effects on the steady-state expression profile of candidate genes that persist into epilepsy. Epigenetic modifications can affect seizure and epilepsy in several ways .
Firstly, histone acetylation is involved in epileptogenesis in human epilepsy patients. Seizure activity results in gene expression changes, including alterations in mRNA levels for glutamate receptor 2 and BDNF, the two well-characterized epileptogenesis-related genes. Of interest, histone acetyltransferase-mediated increases in histone acetylation levels at the promoter regions of the glutamate receptor 2 and BDNF genes have been shown to correlate with their gene expression changes following seizures in an experimental animal model .
Fourthly, methyl-CpG-binding protein 2 can regulate neuronal activity and is itself controlled by activity .
Taken together, early-life stress can prime seizure occurrence and increases epileptogenesis. In addition, epigenetic modification is a shared pathogenic substrate of early-life stress and epilepsy.
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Can You Get Aphasia From Stress
No, you cant get aphasia from stress. However, living constantly stressed can increase your risk of having a stroke which can lead to aphasia but if you already have aphasia, your symptoms may be more noticeable during periods of stress. Moreover, if someone is constantly under a lot of stress, they may start noticing speech problems, concentrating, difficulty retrieving words or even thinking clearly.
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Speak In Comforting Tones
Speak in low, comforting tones to your dog. Some owners even try putting on soft, gentle music for their dogs after a seizure. As long as you dont play anything too loudly, this is fine. However, your dog may appreciate it more if you just let him come back to normal without adding distractions around him, too.
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How Is Pnes Treated
Unlike neurological seizures, PNES is psychological. Therefore, treatment of any underlying condition is important. Treatment options include:
- Psychotherapy CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a good option for any anxiety-related disorders. CBT enables affected individuals to learn how to cope with anxious or stressful thoughts and feelings. This can reduce the frequency of PNES.
- Medications Antiepileptic drugs cannot help in treating pseudoseizures since the seizures are not neurological. Therefore, Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors are preferred to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.
- Lifestyle Changes Various lifestyle changes can minimize exposure to stressful situations and reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Good sleep, daily exercise, a balanced diet, and mindful meditation can reduce anxiety and improve the quality of life.
Causes Of Idiopathic Epilepsy In Dogs
Many different factors, including the pattern of seizures, can influence the development of future seizures. For example, how old a dog is when it first develops a seizure may determine the likelihood that it will develop future seizures, recurrent seizures, and the frequency and outcome of those seizures.
Idiopathic epilepsy is genetic in many dog breeds and is also familial meaning that it runs in certain families or lines of animals. These breeds of dog should be tested for epilepsy and if diagnosed, should not be used for breeding. Breeds most prone to idiopathic epilepsy include the:
Multiple genes and recessive modes of inheritance are suggested in the Bernese Mountain Dog and Labrador Retriever, while non-gender hormone recessive traits has been proposed in the Vizsla and Irish Wolfhound. There are also recessive traits in the English Springer Spaniel, which can lead to epilepsy, but it does not appear to affect all members of the family. Seizures are mainly focal in the Finnish Spitz.
The characteristics associated with genetic epilepsy usually manifest from10-months to 3-years of age, but has been reported as early as six months and as late as five years.
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When Do I Increase My Chances Of Having Seizures
Many people with epilepsy say that sleep deprivation, increased alcohol consumption, and menstrual changes lead to an increase in seizure frequency. You probably already knew that. What you may want to know is why. The reason is that all of these situations change your brain’s excitability. Your brain is very sensitive to these changes, and if there is a big enough change from normal, you may begin to have a seizure.
Emotional stress also can lead to seizures. Emotional stress is usually related to a situation or event that has personal meaning to you. It may be a situation in which you feel a loss of control. In particular, the kind of emotional stress that leads to most seizures is worry or fear. One study found that in some patients, anxietyanother term for worry and fearled to hyperventilation and an increase in abnormal brain activity and seizures. Other emotions that have been linked with stress and seizures are frustration and anger. Sometimes the stress is a ‘major’ event, but most often people report a build up of daily hassles or stress.
Anxiety And Depression In Newly Diagnosed Epilepsy: A Matter Of Psychological History
- 1Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives et Adaptatives , Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique , Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France
- 2Département de Neurologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Nancy, Nancy, France
- 3Unité de Formation et de Recherche Médecine Paris Centre, Université de Paris, Paris, France
- 4Centre de Recherche en Automatique de Nancy , Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique , Université de Lorraine, Nancy, France
Purpose: Anxiety and depression are highly prevalent in patients with epilepsy , and these symptoms can even precede the onset of the pathology. We aimed to define the prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms at the time of the epilepsy diagnosis and the factors related to their presence in newly diagnosed adult patients.
Methods: One hundred and twelve newly diagnosed patients were assessed, usually in the week after diagnosis. Patients were untreated at this time. We used the Neurological Disorders Depression Inventory for Epilepsy and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-Item scale . A semi-structured interview was conducted to collect sociodemographic and epilepsy data and patients psychiatric history. We first compared patients with and without anxiety symptoms, then patients with and without depressive symptoms.
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What Can I Do To Manage Stress And Prevent Seizures
While there is no definite evidence that reducing stress help seizures, a recent study showed that nearly 9 in 10 people who actively managed their stress believed it reduced their risk of seizures. Common sense tells us that if something is bothering you, see what you can do to avoid it or make it better.
Managing stress is very personal and specific to your situation however, there are some universal activities and recommendations.
How Might Stress And Anxiety Cause A Seizure
If you experience seizures, you might find that they become more frequent during particularly stressful times.
Since measuring levels of stress and anxiety can be subjective and vague, theres no clear proof that stress and anxiety directly cause seizures.
However, according to research on the experiences of people with seizures, stress and anxiety can trigger seizures, and current research often underestimates the role they may play.
Lack of sleep is a common trigger for seizures, and this can often happen in people who are experiencing overwhelming stress.
Thats why healthcare professionals recommend keeping a strict sleep schedule as a technique for managing seizures. However, anxiety can disrupt sleep quality and duration.
Even people with well-managed epilepsy may experience a seizure as a result of severe sleep deprivation.
Research indicates that differences in how the brain reacts to increased levels of the hormone cortisol during high anxiety moments may also help explain why stress causes seizures in some people.
Cortisol is a hormone your body produces more of when youre experiencing stress and anxiety.
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What Is A Seizure
A seizure is an abnormal or excessive electrical discharge or activity of neurons in the brain which causes the brain cells to misfire, send wrong signals and send them too rapidly. This abnormal brain activity in turn causes physical symptoms that are varied and many, lasting from a few seconds to several minutes. Some symptoms may occur before the actual seizure takes place such as sudden fear or anxiety, dizziness, changes in vision, jerky movement of the limbs, or headaches. The symptoms of an ongoing seizure include loss of consciousness followed by confusion, uncontrollable muscle spasms, frothing at the mouth, clenching of teeth, rapid eye movement, loss of control in the bladder or bowel function, or even changes in mood.
There are many situations or conditions that either directly trigger a seizure or increase the risk of having one. These risk factors include brain injury or infection, brain tumor, stroke, intake of varied substances from alcohol to drugs , as well as stress. Other risk factors may be genes, hormonal imbalance, or medical conditions such as Alzheimers disease, lupus or meningitis. The treatment of seizures may be medicine based as doctors may prescribe antiepileptic drugs which adjust or reduce excessive electrical brain activity. Surgery may also be performed if the cause of the seizure is determined to be caused by or originates in a specific part of the brain.
Stress Factors That Can Trigger Seizures In Dogs
Just like you would for yourself, you should always help your dog to avoid stress, as stress can also be a trigger of seizures in dogs. Stress is actually the number one cause of seizures in humans, but less prevalent in dogs. However, there are several factors that can cause your dog physical and emotional stress or anxiety.
The physical stress factors that trigger seizures in dogs are very similar to those seen in humans. A big one is fatigue. Like humans, dogs often have seizures in the morning or at night, when their body is changing from its sleep/wake cycle.
As mentioned previously, dogs a very photosensitive, so camera flashes, the lights of a television, Christmas lights, or even lightning can trigger a seizure. Also listed above, changes in barometric pressure and extreme hot or cold weather can also cause your dog to become physically stressed, which can in turn trigger a seizure. Thunderstorms also can spook a dog enough to be a trigger.
Sudden changes to your dogs diet or routine can also cause stress that may trigger a seizure. Dogs run on a very strict internal clock, and know when it is time to eat or go outside or when you get home from work. Changes in their routine can be caused by visiting friends or family members, a new baby joining the family, construction around the home and more. Missing, skipping, or going too long in between meals can also cause low blood sugar, which can be a trigger of seizures as well.
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Physical Issues Associated With Stress That Can Lead To Seizures:
- There is an overlap in the areas of our brain that respond to stress and the areas that contribute to seizures.
- Stress naturally creates an increase in specific hormones that are related directly to our bodys nervous system that directly affect the brain in a way that can contribute to seizures.
- An ongoing period of stress, also called chronic stress, can cause mood problems such as anxiety and depression. These mood problems only contribute to worsening stress, leading to even more problems that increase the chance of a seizure.
- Stress can lead to a lack of sleep or an interrupted sleep cycle. This can trigger a stress-related seizure.
Length Frequency And Severity Of Seizures
How often a dog with epilepsy experiences seizures can vary greatly between dogs and over an individual dogs lifetime. Recording how often your dog has seizures is important to track how well their treatment is working, and so your vet can alter their treatment if necessary. Some dogs experience seizures very close together in time , seizures that are very long, or seizures that immediately lead to more seizures, which they do not return to normal in between. These types of seizure pose a particularly high risk to your dogs health, can be life-threatening and an emergency:
Status epilepticus is classed as either:
- a seizure that lasts longer than five minutes, or
- where two or more individual epileptic seizures occur, between which the dog does not return to normal and regain full consciousness
Immediate treatment is necessary because status epilepticus can cause permanent neurological damage or even death. If status epilepticus occurs in your dog, immediately contact your vet for emergency treatment. Emergency treatment includes your vet administering high doses of medications that try to stop the seizure and minimise damage to your dogs brain and body. Although seizures are distressing to witness, you should always try to stay calm when a seizure starts and time how long it lasts, so you know whether a seizure is lasting a particularly long time, and are prepared to contact your vet if status epilepticus occurs.
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The Confusion Between Panic Attacks & Partial Seizures
Panic attacks occur suddenly and can be so overwhelming that the patient feels out of control. In such cases, people tend to look for other causes or refuse to believe that it can be a panic attack. These days, for every little problem, people are searching online about it and thus there are innumerable websites and forums that tell you that what you are suffering from may be different from panic attacks, such as that it could be a partial seizure.
Partial seizures can resemble panic attacks however, this occurs in very rare cases and even if they occur, then it is seen in patients who are already at risk for epilepsy. Similarly, sometimes panic attacks can be so severe to the extent that they look like seizures however, this scenario is also not common.
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