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Epilepsy Behav. 2000 Feb;1(1):52-9. doi: 10.1006/ebeh.2000.0023.

The postictal state: a neglected entity in the management of epilepsy.

Author information

  • 1Barrow Neurological Institute and University of Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona.
  • 2Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.


Some of the disability deriving from epilepsy derives from the postictal state (PS). The PS may be complicated by impaired cognition, headache, injuries, or secondary medical conditions. Postictal depression is common, postictal psychosis relatively rare, but both add to the morbidity of seizures. The mechanisms of the PS are poorly understood. Alteration of cerebral blood flow both results from and contributes to the PS. Many neurotransmitters or neuromodulators are involved in the physiology of the PS. Response to glutamate may partially desensitize after a seizure. Endogenous opiates and adenosine serve as natural antiepileptic medications in some circumstances. Nitric oxide has numerous effects on brain excitability, and may be particularly important in regulating postictal cerebral blood flow. Just as the pathophysiology of seizures is complicated, so is that of the PS multifactorial. As a practical issue, it would be very useful to have medications that reduce the morbidity of the PS.

Copyright © 2000 Academic Press. All rights reserved.

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