Other Psychological Effects

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There can be many emotional challenges that come with having epilepsy.

Many people with epilepsy say there is the fear or anxiety of waiting for the next seizure. For some people, this fear can be quite disabling. Knowing a seizure can occur at any time and place without much or any warning is a very real fear for many people. Some people also become anxious about social rejection, particularly during adolescence.

When you’re anxious you may:

  • Focus on the odds that something bad is about to happen to you.
  • Overestimate the chance of it happening (for example, every time you go shopping or to a party, you think you’re going to have a seizure).
  • Exaggerate the negative impact if what you fear happens (for example, fear of having a seizure and what people may then think of you).

When to get help

  • When the fear and anxiety about having seizures occurs often.
  • When seizures are well controlled but the fear remains.
  • If you are isolating yourself from friends and family.
  • If you think that the anxiety is related to antiepileptic drugs (or other medications).

If you are feeling depressed

What to do

  • Learn to manage stress in your life.
  • Learn a variety of relaxation techniques.
  • Look after your physical needs. Eat healthy, exercise and try to keep to a routine sleep pattern. Avoid alcohol, mood altering drugs and junk food.
  • Learn to replace negative self talk with coping self talk. When you find you are thinking negatively, try to change it to something more positive. For example, replace “I can’t do this, it’s just too hard,” with: “This is hard but I will get through it.” Another example is ‘My epilepsy stops me from enjoying myself’ to ‘I may have epilepsy but I am not going to let it rule my life – it is just one part of my life’. Make a list of frequent negative thoughts and another of positive, believable thoughts to replace them.

Anxiety can be exhausting. Don’t suffer alone for too long. It helps to talk to a counsellor or psychologist, to find ways for you to deal with stress in your life and teach you skills to manage anxiety.