Suicidal ideation and seizures.
Brief background. I went to see a psychiatrist because I thought my “spells” were a scary sign of mental illness. I would have this sudden sense of deja vu followed by an overwhelming and unpleasant 10-30 second event. The psychiatrist told me she thought I was having seizures. I just about fell out of my chair. What??? The more I read, the more I realized she was right. Unfortunately, the neurologist I went to see disagreed. When I described my “spells” she said my symptoms were not indicative of seizures. It took two years before she walked into my hospital room and said: you have epilepsy. I was diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy. One of the medicines I was taking caused me to have double vision. The neurologist sent me to see three different eye doctors before conceding my symptoms might be from my Rx. Naturally, I have lost a lot of faith. Fast forward…I began to have sudden acute suicidal ideation. It comes on with the suddenness of a seizure. It lasts for about 10-30 seconds and it is followed by what I believe is a postictal phase of tearfulness. I’ve made my husband aware, because I am actually afraid that I might act before I can figure this out. We have had several conversations about this. Last night he said: “I dont think you should be left alone.” My response was, a very pouty, “I have to get sandpaper tomorrow.” I’m in the middle of refinishing a chest of drawers and I ran out of sandpaper. My husband was a counselor for years I have a bachelors in nursing. We have enough experience to know this shows I am future oriented. We have enough experience to know what a true suicidal state looks like. I am not suicidal. I believe I am having seizures. I dont believe I have the luxury of waiting for two years or seeing three different psychiatrists before my neurologist explores the possibility. As I said, I believe I am having seizures and I am concerned what a change in presentation could mean.
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Hello amkect64@amkect64! I have never heard of seizures causing suicidal ideations like you describe. But then many different behaviors are manifested by seizures I also have temporal lobe epilepsy and have had deja' vu auras preceding them. My neurologist says temporal lobes seizures can be preceded by auras like this. Double vision and suicidal ideations are side effects of many anti-seizure medicines. The suicidal feelings are a rare side effect of the medication that doctors often do not know about. I was the first patient many doctors ever saw who exhibited these side effects, I researched the medications and saw that I was exhibiting rare side effects. As a nurse this should be easy for you. The stigma surrounding epilepsy will just effect the psychiatrist's opinions. You certainly have epilepsy!
It sounds possible to me you were experiencing focal seizures. The déjà vu episodes were likely focal aware seizures. Were you unconscious at anytime?
Suicidal ideations happen in about one out of 500 people taking anticonvulsant medications and are more common in people with depression, suicidal and homicidal thoughts.
Do you have a history of anxiety, depression etc.
I assume the seizures you describe were your first.
Since your side effect were rare, did your doctor dismiss the idea? My doctor’s first reaction is to refute my opinions.
Hello amkect64@amkect64. My doctor dismissed the matter. Does your doctor deny all your opinions? It must be very hard to work with that doctor. I wouldn't feel comfortable doing so. Have you ever thought of getting another doctor, one who respects your opinions. I need that. I have changed neurologists several times so I can feel comfortable with my doctor all around. I now have a doctor who works with me and respects my opinion.
I had a similar experience. I also do have temporal lobe epilepsy, having auras and déjà vu experiences since I am 12 years old (I am 50 now). As all my EEGs results were normal, it was believed that I was a person with high sensitivity (I had those experiences around 5 times a year). I have lived without knowing I had epilepsy until 2019 when I finally got the diagnosis, explaining my déjà vu experiences. Up to 2017, I have lived well and without troubles, but all of a sudden things changed. Due to a lack of diagnosis and treatment, my epilepsy has evolved. Today I know that a normal EEG does not rule out the possibility of epilepsy.
I am not a person with suicidal ideas, but some AEDs I have tried, have put me down, getting very depressed. Were you a depressed person before the medication to take today? Thank God I am back to normal since I dropped this AED and started with treatment with medical cannabis. I am very sensible to AEDs, having lots of side effects or not being able to control my seizures with them.
At that time, when I got very depressed, my doctor (general neurologist) also refuted my opinions, saying that what I was feeling was not from the medication (even though I have seen that this AED could cause depression as a side effect). I agree with @lsittll that it must be hard to be treated by a doctor that does not respect your feelings and opinions! I have lived that myself for some months, before deciding to change doctors. Today, I am being treated by an epileptologist, seeing and feeling a great difference in the approach and treatment. Have you considered seeing another doctor, especially an epileptologist?
Absolutely dismissed my opinion. What is it with neurologists?
I began to record my seizures. I know, I know, I should have been doing this since the beginning. Anyway, as I was trying to describe my weird “seizures” it occurred to me that I wasnt having suicidal thoughts at all. I was having a vision of suicide. Does anyone else have weird visions during a seizure? I believe these are seizures, but I doubt my neurologist will. Doctors tend to attribute womans complaints to ovaries and/or psychiatric issues. Now, with this, I KNOW my doctor will chalk it up to depression.
For me, everything about seizures is creepy. Something is wrong with my brain. The medicine i take acts on my brain. Side effects from the medicines show up in my brain. I know I shouldn’t complain. I have baby seizures. People with grand mal seizures deserve medals.
“I began to record my seizures. I know, I know, I should have been doing this since the beginning.”
Seizure diaries can be extremely helpful. Also, it would be a good idea to notify people who are around you to video your seizures. Good for you.
You may very well be right about your Neurologist. Do you experience Auras? It is unbelievable how many doctors diagnose a seizure as stress, anxiety or depression. Not that those things can't cause them in some people.
Do you have TLE by chance?
Do you know where your seizures originate?
Yes, I have TLE. For eight months (right after my daughter was born) I was having 8-10 seizures a day, every day. They were horrible. The strong ones would make me throw up. I thought I had PTSD because I was having what I thought were flashbacks. I actually went to counseling for a year. Apparently psychiatric counseling does nothing for seizures! What was weird was that one day, like someone threw a switch, they stopped. I didn't have any “spells” for thirty years and then BOOM, I had a spell. Thankfully, I didn’t have as many as I used to have but the whole situation was unsettling. For me, seizures would be better than flashback, because there’s medication for seizures.