How to Deal With Having a Seizure in Public

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Often a seizure in public, especially if there is no-one around that knows you, will mean an ambulance is called. Lots of people have never seen seizures before and usually panic because they don’t know what is happening or how to help.

It’s understandable that people are worried and self-conscious about having a seizure in public, especially in the early days. It’s never something you get completely used to, but some people get more OK with it and accept that it may or may not happen. Many people still have that vague niggling worry that a seizure might happen.

As seizures are unpredictable, sometimes people spend more time worrying about having a seizure when planning activities, which can then get in the way of their enjoyment of everyday activities. This fear of having a seizure in public can be so bad that some people avoid going out just in case they have a seizure. In such instances, the fear of having a seizure is so strong that some people think the worst will happen to them.

Fear of having a seizure in public typically occurs when people are worried what others will think of them if they were to have a sudden seizure. Although you have felt embarrassed, upset or annoyed at yourself for having previously experienced a seizure in the presence of strangers, usually people who witnessed the event and those who came to your assistance were more likely to be worried about your well-being than thinking negative things about you. When anxiety takes hold, it can make people think the worst and/or think that other people are judging them in a negative way. This usually is not the case. So some people may try to control this anxiety by avoiding going out in public. It’s pretty sad if this happens, because everyone is entitled to a life.

Epilepsy is a health condition you have; it is helpful to not let it get in the way of you taking part in social activities. Putting your life on ‘hold’ because you have a fear of having a seizure in public will only strengthen your anxiety. Instead, try to engage in everyday activities without letting your fear get in the way. The more you continue to engage in your everyday routine, with time you will find that your anxiety does not have as strong a hold on you and your enjoyment of life.

Click the play button to hear Rob talk about his first seizure.

“I remember nothing about my first seizure which was a full blown tonic clonic seizure. I recall using the computer and then waking up on the floor with my shirt ripped open after a colleague had been pumping my chest, assuming I was having a heart attack! The good thing was that it resulted in a week in hospital and the beginning of various tests.”


To hear about Meg’s experiences at school click on the video.

Meg’s seizures at school

Do you wear a medical alert ID? If you do, then people might know what is going on or at least know that this is something that happens to you – not something completely random.

There are still people who will always call an ambulance, but they might not panic so much if they know you have epilepsy. There are heaps of different types of IDs now. You might like to check them out by following the links:

Another way is to make sure people close to you, friends, teachers, classmates, coach, teammates or workmates know that you have seizures and know what to do. It doesn’t have to be heaps of people, but it can be reassuring to know that you are with someone who won’t panic and will do the right thing if you do have a seizure. You may want to give them a copy of the Seizure First Aid Poster and Factsheets which you can download here.

If you are really anxious about having a seizure in public, and not going out because of it, talk to your GP who can help you find someone to talk to about it.

Click the play button to hear Caleb talk about living life with epilepsy.

“When I was a teenager I decided I wanted to experience all life had to offer… seizures and all. I think that was, and still is, the key for me. Just going out and experiencing life and all it has to offer. If the seizure happens, it happens and then it’s over.”