Epilepsy Talk

Seizures…Memory…Depression. YES, They Are Linked! | November 17, 2013

At least one in every eight people with epilepsy also has depression.

Epilepsy can have different effects on memory functions and depression for various reasons.

Because the portion of the brain where memory and emotions are stored — the limbic system — can be disturbed by epileptic seizures.

In fact, memory problems are one of the most reported problems that coincide with epilepsy.

The normal processes that the brain goes through in storing memory may be disrupted during an epileptic seizure.

Loss of consciousness that occurs along with seizures can result in a loss of memory.

Usually, the memory loss is at the time immediately prior to the seizure, however, there have been exceptions to this.

People with Temporal Lobe epilepsy are especially prone to memory loss.

Because those seizures usually begin in the deeper portions of the temporal lobe — especially the limbic system.

And since TLE is often medication resistant, the result is memory loss, often coupled with depression.

In a study of 70 treatment resistant people, 34% of the people showed significant depression.

They also had poorer performance on measures of intelligence, language, perception, memory, and executive function.

Severity of depressive symptoms were associated with the level of memory impairment in TLE patients.

Especially for people with a left-sided seizure focus.

And at the time of the study, depression seemed to be under-recognized and under-treated, since none of the people were in any kind of treatment.

In addition, it’s also important to understand that epilepsy is more than just a syndrome of seizures.

Other cognitive, behavioral, and emotional changes are present.

Although in the past, these have been generally viewed as side-effects of seizures.

And it has been presumed they would disappear once seizures were adequately controlled.

But since they may precede seizures, these conditions don’t uniformly resolve if seizures are fully controlled.

Therefore, it’s increasingly recognized that to improve the quality of life for many people with epilepsy, a “cure” must involve more than stopping or preventing seizures.

It also must include improving the cognitive, behavioral, and emotional difficulties that can be an equally or more disabling part of this disorder.

Coping with epilepsy is an ongoing battle. And until the physiological and emotional issues are addressed, the struggle will continue.

Other articles of interest:

Antidepressants — Improving Mood AND Seizure Frequency


Epilepsy, Anxiety and Depression


Death, Depression and AEDs


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http://www.amazon.com/dp/0199580286 Epilepsy and Memory








  1. love your blog and I love this posting. Right on the money with the psych issues. a lot of neurologists will prescribe antidepressants along with aem’s. I’ve found that alot of those issues can be countered with the use of medical marijuana. Sounds horrible and needs more study but the kids with dravets seem to benefiting through cbd production in the plants. Kinda off topic but not. I am intractable and dosed high with keppraxr—the stuff made me irrational and hateful, depressed. trying mmj to counter those effects has vastly improved my quality of life. I’m much happier and my wife and kids love that I had the courage to step in that direction.


    Comment by paul — November 27, 2013 @ 11:33 PM

  2. We’re on the same side of the boat.

    Take a look at “Medical Marijuana — The Great Debate”


    You’ll see in the bottom links that even the FDA is beginning to the the light. (Clinical trials!)

    Even though the AMA continues to keep their heads in the sand. (Competition? Fear?Arrogance?)


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 29, 2013 @ 11:19 AM

  3. While I’m NOT expert, nor as much infromed as in “medical-marijuana” as much as my Dilantin or Keppra seizure prescriptions, your article ended hits home detailing the enormous struggle overcoming confusion, depression & memory problems, after getting out weeks in the hospital, just yesterday.
    Thank you for sharing this great article, mapping the enormous struggle for recovery & restart life, all over again.
    This website has ALWAYS been, home to recovery after each seizure.
    So remains your article.
    Thanks for sharing.


    Comment by Ghere — December 10, 2013 @ 3:17 AM

  4. Dear Ghere, Thanks. All compliments accepted! 😉

    Seriously, I’m glad this can be a place of comfort and healing. That’s what Epilepsy Talk is all about.

    A “family” of caring, sharing people, who teach others what they know and learn what they might not know.

    I hope we remain a home of comfort and healing for you.

    Welcome to the family!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 10, 2013 @ 9:14 AM

  5. Memory loss is one of the things that scares me the most. I wonder if it can mitigated in any manner? Or, if it is inevitable regardless whether you have your seizures controlled or not (due to sub clinical activity)?


    Comment by Doug — December 10, 2013 @ 9:22 PM

  6. I think memory loss is something you have to work on yourself. It scares me too.

    And it’s not going to go away. There’s no magic pill.

    All you can do is try your best. 😦


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 11, 2013 @ 11:43 AM

    • Hi Doug and Phyllis~ I understand this was written in 2013 and you may call me a late bloomer or new to this blog…that is all fine with me. The article is wonderful and applies to me on a different personal note. With the help of a wonderful neuropsychologist and persistence on my part, my memory skills have been improving and surviving. My neurologist has been amazed at what I have been able to remember considering he believes I shouldn’t remember anything regarding the seizures I had and I do! Surprisingly enough more and more comes back to me all the time. Unlike many people, I’m not an advocate for marijuana or cbd oil. If it works for that is fine, i am not one to judge anyone else. I am someone who is very sensitive to many things so I just heir on the side of caution when it it comes to myself. When it comes to battling any form of Epilepsy or seizure disorder, everyone is built chemically different and therefore we just have come to respect that the treatment is trial and error. What works for one person may not work for another but the results for one person may surely help another and that is how I look at it. As of this year I will be considered in remission since I will be seizure free for 5 years. It has taken a lot of work, patience and has not been an easy job by any means. The depression is real. The pain is real. And sometimes I do want to give up. I don’t know what keeps me going or waking up everyday but I do. I know how it feels to be alone in this battle and I know how it feels to have others with me but most of the time I’m alone. This blog helps a lot and has taught me a lot so I thank you for that Phyllis! I hope there are times I share things that help others too!


      Comment by Janet — April 26, 2016 @ 4:48 PM

      • Janet,

        5 years seizure free. HOORAY!

        I know from two friends how difficult the neuropsychology process is.

        One friend had brain damage from a failed surgery, the other had brain trauma from a car accident and they both related how they used to come home from sessions and cry.

        Both are very strong woman which says to me that not only is the process arduous, but to succeed, you must be persistent and stay the course.

        Which obviously you are.

        I don’t know if I would have that same moxy as you and them. (I like to hope so.)

        But I’d like to congratulate on YOUR strength, courage and success.

        Hopefully, others can learn from your example.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 26, 2016 @ 6:38 PM

  7. yes its true how much medical pot has help the younger kids ,have close to up 600, a day/ week { some of them have very serious seizures too .. from DOOSE SYNDROME , DRAVET, AUTISM { NON-VERBAL }& SEIZURES , , TO LENNOX GAST..} & Many more more serious .. sure many of us , would drop the pills in heart beat .. some of adults , see this hoping it would work .. but read few , one from VA , helping the soldiers with PTSD , & many other injuries , to even us , some having up to 5 , day , or some , not having none , but have to take the meds , because they have to ..preventing seizures from coming on .. { like myself , not having seizures for 10 yrs .. sure in calif , we have the medical pot . believe been on the books for last 5 yrs now .. BUT ITS THE COST.. not covered by insurance companies , by your drs / hospitals , if in your blood , you can kiss your drs goodbye , hospitals , , even insurances .. & if your on VA benefits { like ssi /disability , } even that would be gone too .. ***IF YOUR ON IT ***, believe you should talk with all of them before getting on the medical pot plus , make sure your city , housing wants it too .. some cities now , do not want it in the town because of break ins , stealing the pot , , some neighbors , too ,, they dont want to even smell it because of the smell of it { allergies to pot / cigarettes } , also there are rules , too cant have more than certain amount , cant smoke it outside , cant drive while on it , would be considered as a DUI , if the cop smells it , or if , you have it in your pocket .. saw something a link, on insurance ,


    Comment by cathy — June 21, 2014 @ 8:20 AM

  8. Ironically Cathy, I saw the same article. I think the problem in legalizing marijuana is that MEDICINAL marijuana is far different (and, of course, meant for very different reasons) than recreational marijuana.

    “Opponents of medical marijuana argue that it is too dangerous to use, lacks FDA-approval, and that various legal drugs make marijuana use unnecessary.

    They say marijuana is addictive, leads to harder drug use, interferes with fertility, impairs driving ability, and injures the lungs, immune system, and brain. They say that medical marijuana is a front for drug legalization and recreational use.”


    We’ve probably all read about the big-time problems in Colorado where recreational marijuana (which we used to call “dope” when we were teens) has been abused and fear is pretty universal that medicinal marijuana will end up being used and abused the same way.

    But, at the end of the day, I think it’s really an issue of money and politics. They don’t care what conditions medicinal marijuana will help. The legalization is taken on unwillingly, and for that reason, all charges from insurance and medical to social are fair game.

    Because in reality, who really is in true favor of medicinal marijuana? Those who NEED it.



    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 21, 2014 @ 10:50 AM

  9. How do people handle/cope with seizures that are coming from left temporal lobe of the brain due to a lesion that was there. Lobotomy done in 2012 that removed the lesion and also the left hippocampus so deficits in short term memory, reasoning, and sequencing. Seizures still happening some times, but it’s frustrating w/ the damage that has been done to the brain


    Comment by Nadine Schaeffer Strange — December 12, 2015 @ 3:12 PM

  10. I honestly don’t know. 😦


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 12, 2015 @ 3:41 PM

  11. I have been depressed all of my life, and seizures so I know what it,s like losing half of your memory. I take zolof for my depression every day.


    Comment by michele metzger — April 27, 2016 @ 4:26 PM

  12. Yes. Somehow memory loss and depression come with the territory.

    (Are you depressed because you don’t have much memory?)

    But, I’m glad you’re taking care of the depression part, Michele.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 27, 2016 @ 5:20 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I've also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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