One of our researchers on our TMS machine

Diagnosing epilepsy

Getting a diagnosis is not always easy as there is no single test that can diagnose epilepsy. Doctors gather lots of different information to assess the causes of seizures. 

If you have had two or more seizures that started in the brain you may be diagnosed with epilepsy.

If there is a possibility that you have epilepsy, NICE recommends that you are referred to a specialist, (a doctor who is trained in diagnosing and treating epilepsy) within two weeks.

Your diagnosis is based on finding out what happened to you before, during and after your seizures. For example, some types of faints can look like epileptic seizures, and often before fainting a person feels cold, clammy and their vision goes blurry. But epileptic seizures happen very suddenly and a person may have no warning that a seizure is about to happen. 





Brain scans

In order for a person to be suitable for surgery, it is necessary to confirm that seizures are arising from one part of the brain and that it is safe to remove this part. This requires many tests including MRI brain scans.

EEG (Electroencephalogram)

An Electroencephalogram (EEG) records the electrical activity of the brain by picking up the electrical signals from the brain cells. These signals are picked up by electrodes attached to the head and are recorded on paper or on a computer. The recording shows how the brain is working.

Just diagnosed

This leaflet was created with the help of people with epilepsy, and includes their views and experiences. It also includes information on topics people told us they would have found helpful when they were diagnosed with epilepsy. 

A diagnosis and mood

Any diagnosis can be a shock, even if you are expecting it. You may feel numb, angry, confused or frightened. Or you may feel relieved – what’s been happening to you has a name and a treatment. Everyone has their own way of reacting to a new situation.

Want to know more?

Download or order our Diagnosis leaflet 


We send monthly e-newsletters to keep you informed with tips for managing epilepsy, the latest news, inspirational stories, fundraising opportunities and further information from Epilepsy Society.

Read our privacy policy

It is always your choice as to whether you want to receive information from us. You may opt-out of our marketing communications by clicking the ‘unsubscribe’ link at the end of our marketing emails or through our unsubscribe number 01494 601 300.