Some people have seizures that are hardly noticeable to others. Sometimes, the only clue that a person is having an absence seizure—a type of primary generalized seizure sometimes called petit mal—is rapid blinking or a few seconds of staring into space. In contrast, a person having a complex partial
seizure may appear confused or dazed and will not be able to respond to
questions or direction for up to a few minutes. Finally, a person
having a generalized tonic-clonic seizure, sometimes called grand mal,
may cry out, lose consciousness, fall to the ground, and have rigidity
and muscle jerks lasting up to a few minutes, with an extended period of
confusion and fatigue afterward.
A more detailed explanation of the diagnosis of seizure types and epilepsy syndromes may be found in a publication of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Seizures and Epilepsy: Hope Through Research .