In order to understand what happens during the Postictal stage of a seizure, you must first understand what causes a seizure. For the lay people reading this, think of a seizure like a summer thunderstorm without the rain. I use that analogy because seizures are the result of errant electrical activity within the brain. It can result in different symptoms depending on the type of seizure and the part of the brain involved. It’s also important to realize that anything the brain does normally, it is still capable of doing during a seizure.
The “ictal phase”
Approximately midway through a seizure, the person enters the “ictal phase” when the visible symptoms associated with the seizure – including the Aura – begin and until they subside. It is worth noting, however, that symptoms may persist even after obvious seizure activity has subsided. This is because some of these are after effects associated with the occurrence of a seizure. Some common examples include: 1) The inability to think or speak normally; 2) Irregular movements or the inability to move; 3) Confusion; and 4) Sleepiness.
The post-ictal phase
Following the ‘ictal’ phase, some people recover almost immediately. For others, require minutes – or even hours to recover. This varies from person to person and is also influenced by the type of seizure (i.e. absence, gran mal) as well as what part of the brain was affected. During the recovery phase – which is what the postictal phase is – involves two key areas: your body generally; and your feelings and thoughts. From the physical standpoint, the post-ictal phase can: 1) Cause a sensation of being either dizzy or lightheaded; 2) Cause a headache; 3) Nausea or upset stomach; 4) Feeling of weakness which can be specific to one side and/or part of the body; 5) Sensation of needing to urinate or have a bowel movement; and 6) Feeling extremely tired or wanting to sleep.
In terms of your feelings/emotions and thoughts, the post-ictal phase can: 1) Slow your response time; 2) Cause a sense of forgetfulness and/or memory loss; 3) Cause difficulty in talking or writing; 4) Feeling depressed or sad; and 5) Feeling anxious confused, or scared.
The Epilepsy Foundation (2014). What Happens During a Seizure? Retrieved on April 23, 2019 from https://www.epilepsy.com/start-here/about-epilepsy-basics/what-happens-during-seizure