In 2005, the International League Against Epilepsy and the International Bureau for Epilepsy joined together, and, despite their archenemy-like titles, agreed upon a definition for epilepsy.
The ILAE and the IBE elaborated on their definition, explaining:
No Seizure, No DiagnosisA patient must experience one seizure. Test results alone are not enough to diagnose epilepsy, and neither are any other underlying symptoms. It is okay if the seizure was brought on by a common trigger, such as alcohol consumption, or lack of sleep, as long as all of the other definition criteria are met.
The Brain Must Reveal A ProblemSome sort of brain malfunction or injury must present itself during a medical test in order to confirm a diagnosis. The same defect must be the cause of all seizures. For example, a woman who has a seizure after hitting her head, and then, after the head injury has healed, has another seizure due to alcohol withdrawal would not be considered epileptic under this definition.
There Will Be BaggagePeople with an epilepsy diagnosis will always have baggage. It is possible for a person to have one seizure and be relatively ‘normal’ after the seizure is over. For an epilepsy diagnosis, the patient will experience other symptoms, such as confusion and memory loss after the seizure, or, in the event another seizure takes place, cognitive issues between seizures. Psychological issues will also be experienced, especially concerning the anticipation of another seizure. Epilepsy patients also face stigmatizing social issues.
A tonic-clonic seizure, from the perspective of a person with epilepsy:
Note that the seizure occurs while he is with friends, and the first thing he notices upon waking is their reaction. He transforms from being a friend among a group of peers, to darkness, to being under a table.