Epilepsy is a condition where epileptic seizures occur. Epileptic seizures happen because of abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The seizures can range from brief ‘pauses’ to stiffening and/or jerking of the whole body.

People can develop epilepsy at any age but it develops most often in infancy/childhood and in the elderly. There are many causes of epilepsy.

The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) has provided a standard definition of epilepsy.

There are a number of things you can do to stay well with epilepsy. Support from your friends, whānau, support agencies such as Epilepsy New Zealand, and health care providers can help.

Information for people taking medicines for epilepsy who could get pregnant

The brochure Medicines for epilepsy, mental health, and pain can harm your unborn baby (PDF, 240 KB) contains important information for people who could get pregnant who are:

  • near childbearing age and sexually active
  • thinking of getting pregnant or are pregnant
  • taking medicines for epilepsy.

If you have any questions about this or your epilepsy medication you should discuss this with your health provider. It is important that you keep taking your medication and that you talk to you doctor about any changes that will be right for you.

Find out more from the Ministry

The Ministry of Health has established an Epilepsy Technical Advisory Group to lead the development of a national service improvement model for people with epilepsy. Find out more about the group, their work programme and papers.

Related websites

Epilepsy New Zealand
Epilepsy New Zealand is a national organisation with 12 offices, supporting people with epilepsy. Epilepsy New Zealand has a wide range of activities, including educational programmes, information sheets and regional support groups

Epilepsy New Zealand can be contacted on 0800 37 45 37. If you are newly diagnosed with epilepsy, or if you want to know more about epilepsy, Epilepsy NZ can arrange an appointment for you with an Epilepsy Educator.

Health Navigator
The Health Navigator NZ website helps you find reliable and trustworthy health information and self-help resources.

NZ Transport Agency
The NZ Transport Agency is responsible for licensing drivers in New Zealand.

Better Health Channel
The Victoria (Australia) state government provides online consumer-focused health and medical information for people with epilepsy from Victoria.

A website featuring video interviews with people on various health topics.

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