Focus On With Dr. Sadek: Epilepsy and Mental Health
Dr. Sadek explains how common it is to experience changes in mood for those with epilepsy.
In addition to seizures, people with epilepsy can often experience changes in their mood. These can vary from person to person, ranging from mild anxiety to severe depression. There can be many different causes for changes in mood. Some people experience changes in their mood before or after a seizure. Structural changes to part of the brain and genetics can also play a role. Medications used to treat seizures may have a positive or negative impact on mood. This is why it is critically important to discuss any changes in mood with your healthcare provider as this could be easily relieved by adjusting your medication.
Although seizures only last up to a few minutes, they often have lasting impact on other aspects of life. It is quite common to have anxiety about seizures, especially given their unpredictability and the impact on safety and daily activities. Learning about what happens during a seizure and discussing this anxiety can help to reduce fears. Many people with epilepsy fear loss of their independence especially when seizures affect their employment or ability to drive. It may be helpful to reach out to resources in the community such as the Epilepsy Association, which can help provide information about your employment rights and transportation alternatives.
Lifestyle factors such as exercise, proper nutrition, sleep and social support are crucial and can go a long way in combating mood disorders. Medications and talk therapy remain mainstays of treatment for mood disorders and can be highly effective. Often people think their symptoms have to be severe, but even mild symptoms can be helped by talking with a counselor. Participating in a support group (even virtually) can help with sharing similar experiences and decreasing social isolation. Consider partnering with your health care provider and don’t be afraid to speak up regarding concerns about your mood. The emotional impact of epilepsy can be just as important to treat as the seizures themselves and can lead to improved treatment and quality of life.
Dr. Ahmed Sadek | Orlando Epilepsy Center, Inc.