There are many ways to approach managing triggers. One way to get started is to figure out the ABCs of your seizures. The ABC Approach is used to help people cope with many chronic illnesses or unhealthy behaviors. This approach asks people to consider three things: antecedants, behaviors, and consequences.

What are the ABCs?

A = antecedant, or something that happens before an event or seizure. This may be easily identified as a trigger, or may be hard to sort out. For example, a person may have trouble sleeping before a seizure and you and your doctor will want to sort out if the seizure was causing sleep problems, if there was a sleep problem separate from the seizures, or if stress or mood was causing problems with sleep.

B = behavior, or the event itself. Usually this is the seizure itself, but not all episodic events are epilepsy seizures. Some people may use this approach to track side effects of medicines. Or they may realize that what they thought were seizures were due to medicine side effects. Other times, people may find that physical or psychological factors can look like seizures but not be caused by electrical activity that causes seizures. It's important to sort these things out as the treatment of these symptoms will differ.

C = consequence, or what occurs after a seizure or event. Some people will look at the short-term effects, such as what occurs when they are recovering from a seizure. For example did you have any injury or did you need to go to the hospital? People may also look at the long-term consequences, such as whether the seizure may result in the loss of their driver's license, or other problems in daily life or social functioning.

The ABC Approach to Trigger Management

Using the ABC approach can help people figure out possible triggers, how they affect their behavior, and what consequences may occur. As a result, you can target your plans to lessen or prevent triggers and how they affect behavior, as well as how they may cause consequences in your life.  For example, while the main focus on lifestyle modifications may be to control seizures, you may also use them as part of a safety management plan to prevent injury.


Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Authored Date: 
Reviewed By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Friday, February 14, 2014