Department of Neurology

Are seizures related to rage attacks?

Q: My husband has been diagnosed with Complex Partial seizures. Throughout his life he has had problems with anger and controlling the anger. His doctor has prescribed Neurontin and that seems to have helped him. People tell me that the epilepsy is an excuse, that his anger is just that and that he most likely needs anger management courses, not medicine. There is very little documentation that I have found that talks about this symptom and to be honest, I too have suspected that this "diagnosis" (the neurologist seemed to diagnose him reluctantly, he ran lots of tests and nothing was conclusive). is a way of explaining his bad behavior. Can you explain this? Is there a form of Epilepsy that manifests itself in anger seizures? I want to believe it but have a hard time. Also, the Neurontin seems to have really calmed him down. Why would that work so well if he did not have the condition to begin with?

Thanks, Linda

A: A person may become agitated during a seizure, but the aggression is almost never directed specifically at someone or something. Some people become agitated and combative after a seizure, because of post-ictal confusion. Thus, it is unlikely that episodes with directed anger are seizures. In your husband's case, there may be other information that may help sort out whether he is having seizures, rage attacks or both, and he should have a careful evaluation from a neurologist or epileptologist to determine this. Anticonvulsants are used for many psychiatric disorders, and thus a response to these types of medications do not verify or dispel a diagnosis of epilepsy.

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