What are the coping strategies?

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There are many things you can do to help yourself. An important thing to remember is that while you didn’t bring the dissociative seizures on, you can help yourself to get better.

The first step would be to identify your triggers as some people can stop a dissociative seizure from coming. It can be difficult to recognise triggers but ask yourself what was happening before the dissociative seizure, how you felt before the dissociative seizure and what were you thinking.

Once you have a clearer understanding of what is happening, you can start to identify both short (what to do when you have a dissociative seizure) and long-term management strategies (how to prevent or reduce severity of the dissociative seizure). Thinking about how your symptoms are impacting on your quality of life and setting some meaningful goals can be helpful when considering your management strategies.

What skills do I use?

Identifying whether you’re becoming hyper-aroused (brain going into overdrive) or hypo-arouses (brain shutting down) is important to tailor your self-management skills that is helpful to you.

When you’re hyper-aroused, you may be over reactive, emotionally distress or have unclear thoughts. To deactivate arousal, use breathing exercises and grounding techniques.

When you’re hypo-aroused, you may feel depressed, lethargic or numb. To activate arousal, sensory stimulating activities with a focus on grounding your experience in the present moment.

There is evidence to indicate that patients with dissociative seizures may have a generalised state of hyper-arousal.

Should I make changes to accommodate dissociative seizures?

It is tempting to make changes to your life in order to feel less afraid or embarrassed by your dissociative seizures, but this can make it worse. It is important that you continue to live as normal a life as you can manage and keep as much independence as you can. Set some meaningful and manageable goals to improve your quality of life.

Should my friends and family be involved?

Make sure your friends and family understand what is going on and how to help you. Show your family and friends this app to support their understanding and take up an active role in your recovery. Having a close support bubble can help you to get better and improves your mood, anxiety and confidence.

What should I and people do during a dissociative seizure?

After a diagnosis of dissociative seizures is made, people experiencing the dissociative seizures, as well as their friends and family, will recognise the typical dissociative seizure a person experiences.

Dissociative seizures are different in different people. However, if a person has a typical dissociative seizure:

DO

  • Remain calm
  • Place a cushion under their head
  • Remove harmful objects away from the person
  • Offer reassurance
  • Stand back and wait for the episode to pass
  • After a dissociative seizure, encourage the person to take some deep slow breaths and try using some distraction techniques
  • Encourage the person to sit up after an attack as soon as they are ready.
  • Encourage them to resume normal activity afterwards.

DO NOT

  • Intervene unless there is danger they might hurt themselves
  • Restrain or hold down the person
  • Administer medicine
  • Seek medical attention or call emergency services unless:
    • A new type of seizure has been seen
    • A significant injury or fall has occurred
    • There is concern about breathing
    • There is concern regarding blood pressure

Dissociative seizures are not in themselves dangerous to the brain. They do not cause damage to the brain. Even though a dissociative seizure may appear very violent, and may go on for a long time, significant injury as a result of dissociative seizures is unlikely and extremely rare.