How are grand mal seizures treated?

A single grand mal seizure generally does not require treatment, but prompt medical attention should be obtained to ensure that epilepsy does not develop. For recurrent grand mal seizures, there are generally three treatments used: medication, surgery, and electrical stimulation. Other treatments may help you cope with the complications of grand mal seizures.

Common treatments for grand mal seizures

Treatments for grand mal seizures that do not spontaneously resolve include:

  • Antiepileptic drugs to reduce abnormal electrical activity in the brain
  • Brain surgery to remove the epileptic focus (location in the brain where seizures start)
  • Electrical stimulation to interfere with abnormal electrical activity

Other treatments for grand mal seizures

In addition to treatments designed to interfere with abnormal electrical activity, treatment for grand mal seizures may include:

  • Changes in diet, especially in children with such conditions as phenylketonuria (inability to break down the amino acid phenylalanine)
  • Social or behavioral therapy to help deal with the complications of seizures and the changes in lifestyle that they produce

Complementary treatments

Some complementary treatments may help some people in their efforts to deal with grand mal seizures and their treatments. These treatments, sometimes referred to as alternative therapies, are used in conjunction with traditional medical treatments. Complementary treatments are not meant to substitute for traditional medical care. Be sure to notify your doctor if you are consuming nutritional supplements or homeopathic (nonprescription) remedies as they may interact with the prescribed medical therapy.

Complementary treatments may include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Nutritional dietary supplements, herbal remedies, tea beverages, and similar products
  • Yoga

What are the potential complications of grand mal seizures?

Grand mal seizures may occur just once, in which case complications are limited. Recurrent seizures, however, may have a profound impact on your life. Complications of untreated or poorly controlled grand mal seizures can be serious, even life threatening in some cases. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of grand mal seizures include:

  • Absenteeism from work or school
  • Brain damage
  • Damage to your tongue or mouth due to biting during seizure
  • Injury during seizure
  • Pulmonary aspiration (inhaling blood, vomited material, or other substances into lungs)
  • Status epilepticus (recurrent seizures without recovery)
  • Withdrawal or depression


  1. NINDS epilepsy information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
  2. Generalized tonic-clonic seizure. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.
  3. Hesdorffer DC, Benn EK, Cascino GD, Hauser WA. Is a first acute symptomatic seizure epilepsy? Mortality and risk for recurrent seizure. Epilepsia 2009; 50:1102.

What are grand mal seizures?

Grand mal seizures, or generalized tonic-clonic seizures, are seizures that involve muscle contractions, muscle rigidity, and loss of consciousness. These seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Grand mal seizures affect the entire body, and may happen just once or multiple times (as in the case of epilepsy). The cause of grand mal seizures may not be immediately re... Read more about grand mal seizuresintroduction


What are the symptoms of grand mal seizures?

Symptoms of grand mal seizures are related to abnormal electrical activity in the brain, and include auras, muscle rigidity, and muscle spasms.

Aura symptoms of grand mal seizures

The aura is the initial phase of a grand mal seizure and may be marked by:


What causes grand mal seizures?

Grand mal seizures may occur just once or, if they recur, may be an indication of epilepsy. All seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which may be a result of injury, illness, a genetic condition, or may have no known cause. In patients with epilepsy, a grand mal seizure may arise from a trigger, such as mental or physical Read more about grand mal seizurescauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Brain and Nerves