Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy, Anxiety and Depression | April 17, 2018

One study stated that 80% of the patients with epilepsy were also diagnosed as having a depressive disorder.

Upwards of 60% of these individuals had a history of significant episodes of depression.

And 10-32% experience symptoms of anxiety.

Not too reassuring, is it?

And for those whose epilepsy cannot be controlled by meds, the likelihood of depression and anxiety are even greater.

In fact, many of the medications used to treat seizure disorders can trigger depression.

Dilantin, Phenobarbatol, Celonton and Tegretol are all notorious for this side effect.

Trigger management

Careful monitoring of your seizures can help you figure out possible triggers, how they affect your behavior, and what happens after an episode.

With time, you can target your plans to lessen or prevent triggers and figure out what the culprits are: lack of sleep, foods, stress, work, social situations, isolation, or some simple thing in your  everyday life.

Here are some suggestions that might help you:

Consider counseling… support groups…tracking your seizures and their triggers daily in a diary…time-out when you’re feeling overwhelmed… relaxation  exercises, deep breathing or yoga…

But most importantly, tell your doctor and family how you feel.

Support can often go a long way towards helping your anxiety and depression.

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  1. Having a dog forces me to walk twice a day (at least) and that exercise, plus seeing neighbors, and the sweetness of the dog, goes a long way.

    Liked by 3 people

    Comment by Susan Sherman — April 17, 2018 @ 5:51 PM

    • I know that walking cheers me up. Just being outside of myself (literally) seems to lift some burdens and put things into perspective!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 17, 2018 @ 9:03 PM

    • I find that dog walking helps, too. I actually specifically moved house so I could get two dogs and go walking. And, of course, my dog helps, too. I must admit though, I’m nervous to say to my neurologist about how high my levels of anxiety are, in case he wonders why I’m asking him and not another kind of doctor (and I’ve put it off so long that I’m now anxious he’ll be irked I didn’t say before). I know my meds can have that side effect, but I feel silly for asking. Oy! Not fun.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by fmclaren — May 21, 2018 @ 4:11 AM

  2. It happened to me!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Valerie Bell — April 17, 2018 @ 6:56 PM

  3. Strange that the drug KEPPRA was not mentioned for a root cause of Anxiety & Depression. I know from experience 2 times when both times 10 years apart for trying it, 1 was the manufactured drug BRAND NAME & the other a compound formula of KEPPRA. With both times, I was depressed & suicidal, with the last time from knowing I was taking too much 24 hours after a GRAND MAL & CONCUSSION from it, I was really hallucinating yet I was to stay on 1500 mgs a day. Wasn’t until I saw my doctor that same week, & I did not want to drive to go see him, he saw the BIG difference in HIS mistake of having me on 1500mgs a day, and he admitted he told me to be on 1500mgs a day and seen it was too much for me. 10 years before that the manufactured drug of KEPPRA & 3000 mgs a day I was the same way, with Anxiety, Confusion & Depression until I went off of it then, I fiinally feeling like myself.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by C D — April 17, 2018 @ 7:00 PM

  4. so true- the past couple days have not been good ones for me, and barometric pressure is a main problem for me. Rains and snow forecasted- any weather changes…….I keep telling my family and friends I’ll bet I could get a good paying job working at the weather bureau- probably forecast better reports than they do! Ha.

    Yes, depression and anxiety also. That’s why work always had effect on spells also; always stress and anxiety……….

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Karen Frandsen — April 17, 2018 @ 7:34 PM

    • Barometric Pressure: Weather differences such as sudden changes in temperature, dark skies, thunder, or bright, hot sunlight and humidity may be a definite trigger for some.

      Also, (I don’t know if this pertains to you), an epileptologist explained that heat can trigger a seizure for some people because it’s firing up the neurons in the brain which can cause a seizure.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 17, 2018 @ 9:13 PM

  5. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kristi Russo — April 17, 2018 @ 7:43 PM

  6. As a kid & teenager I was on the DILANTIN & MEBERAL for over 26 years until at age 27 I was off them both. It was like WOW !!! My digestive system worked normally, & I felt for once in my life like a real person, before the time of 3 + years past & my 3rd ever Grand Mal happened. So I went on phenobarbital back in 1991, & since then, being now on LAMICTAL all the AED’s have taken away my peace & joy for the past 27 years because none of them stops the seizures. Happiness is only the good condition you live with, when you know peace & joy are in your life, with contentment, but Who really can be contented with any kind of seizure life ? Who thinks we can deal with it for life ? That means we’re depressed & anxious if we can’t cope 365 days a year ?

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by C D — April 17, 2018 @ 8:37 PM

    • C D, I’ve gotta say that Dilantin was my enemy. It made me a zombie and I ended up in a partial coma from it. (They didn’t test blood levels back in those days.)

      However, for me, Lamictal has had the reverse effect. At first, it made me crazy/hyper. But when my dose was adjusted, I shed all side effects and have been 99% seizure-free for 10+ years.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 17, 2018 @ 9:20 PM

  7. Hi everyone
    I can totally relate to the depression and isolation of epilepsy. It’s cost me dearly. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a fantastic neurologist who has a great balance of drugs working in my favour. Keppra for me combined with tegertol has worked wonders! I’m sorry that it’s not as good for everyone. I guess we’re all different. It must be so hard to be the doctor.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Eve Quigley — April 17, 2018 @ 11:57 PM

  8. The neurologist I’ve had has simply put me on more sodium valproate which hasn’t done anything for seizures or my mood. However, the ketogenic diet has stabilised my mood and, well, it’s too soon to report about my seizures. Only I’ve managed to lower my dose of pills without side effects

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by teachersian — April 18, 2018 @ 2:21 PM

  9. Thank you very much for sending your articles. They are extremely informative.
    What do you think about a touchpoint watch?
    Thank you f

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Adela Frenk — April 18, 2018 @ 2:35 PM

    • Frankly I don’t know anything about it. Is it like a fidbit?

      I do know about these smartwatches, though:

      NEW! Apple Seizalarm — A user-friendly iPhone and Apple Watch app which allow those with epilepsy and other seizure disorders to alert emergency contacts automatically when seizure-like motion is detected or manually if they need immediate help or think they might need help soon. Detects seizure-like motion, requests immediate help, seizure monitoring control, GPS location tracking, and event log tracking. http://seizalarm.com/

      Embrace — Created to track your activity, stress and overall body balance, enabling people who live with Epilepsy to get an alert when an unusual event happens such as a convulsive seizure, warning them and their loved ones. https://www.empatica.com/product-embrace

      The SmartWatch — A motion detecting and alerting wristwatch that can detect seizures and alert caregivers within seven to 10 seconds. http://www.smart-monitor.com/
      For details and pricing information, please call 1-888-334-5045.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — April 18, 2018 @ 3:02 PM

  10. Very helpful, thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by kmichonski — May 23, 2018 @ 8:24 PM

  11. I have a son with a severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. It’s an absolutely horrid disease & we see depression in him as well. https://cruelandunusualcircumstances.com/

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by dravetsyndromeblog — May 31, 2018 @ 9:29 AM

  12. Walking, singing and time with friends help so much. Most of the time, so does my time working. And definitely sleep – when I can get it!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by megambon2164 — November 26, 2018 @ 10:34 AM

    • You are one smart and practical lady.

      Although I can’t sing for love or money, I do the other three things with gusto.

      With hope for sleep. 🙂


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 26, 2018 @ 10:38 AM

      • Well I learned about those things from the master! Thanks for the well wishes, Phylis! Best, M.E.


        Comment by megambon2164 — November 26, 2018 @ 10:40 AM

      • And thanks for the compliment. It means so much.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 26, 2018 @ 1:13 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 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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