Psychosocial Issues

Epilepsy is usually a trying disorder. Reaction to a diagnosis of epilepsy may range from guilt, dismay, fear, embarrassment, to regarding seizures as a routine matter. Many individuals with epilepsy and their families withdraw from social interaction and normal activity. However, research has shown that some persons with epilepsy have fewer seizures by maintaining an active lifestyle.

If an individual's seizures are infrequent or well controlled and the side effects of medication are minimal, then withdrawal from normal activity may indicate low self-esteem. Family members of individuals with epilepsy may also be vulnerable to these problems.

It may be important to seek help for depression, as research has shown that as many as 25% of those affected by epilepsy will experience depressive symptoms. Some risk factors for depression are a negative attitude towards seizures, poor family relations and an external locus of control. Emotional problems related to the disorder may be more likely to result if the individual has central nervous system damage, poor seizure control and family stress (marital, financial, poor social support and unresolved losses).

Support services may offer a variety of coping strategies through counseling, peer support and education about the disorder. These services may help to provide a pathway to acceptance and a better quality of life. If you or your family members are feeling lost, confused or overwhelmed, an initial consultation with your local epilepsy organization will help to identify available support services, information and referrals for professional help.