Epilepsy Talk

Epilepsy, Anxiety and Depression | August 3, 2019

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. I have tonic clonic grand mal seizures and really depressed, my seizures getting worse and I have to wear incontinence. Been think check my self into hospital. I don’t know what to do anymore. Anything that can help me out with this problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Derrick Day — August 3, 2019 @ 5:40 PM

  2. Hi Phylis, glad you mentioned the role of the medications. last time i looked, ALL of them have depression listed as a possible side effect, then there’s all the other nasty stuff. keppra is notorious for suicidal depression, even in people with no previous history of depression at all. Even Lamictal- ironically used as a mood stabilizer, seems to trigger mood problems in people with no history.

    I used to be part of a support group where there were 15-20 of us, and at one point, about 2/3rds of us were on antidepressants. I know 2 of them developed serious depression following E surgery (a known complication)- as for the rest of us, who knows. We were all intractible, me, I do also have a family history of mood problems which was probably triggered when i started on dilantin, made a lot worse by phenobarb. Tonic Clonics can cause horrific depression post-ictally.

    There’s so many overlaps, sometimes I think it’s impossible to know with many of us if it’s the szs, meds, social aspect , unrelated mental illness or a combination. I don’t like the fact how so many people end up on psych drugs automatically before the whole situation is assessed- like, did the symptoms coincide with starting a particular AED? If so, would changing that drug be a better option to try, rather than adding another heavy duty brain drug into the mix? neurologists and psychiatrist need to start working with each other. Also remembering that most psych drugs have seizure contraindications). Not saying they’re sometimes needed, but the bigger picture needs to be looked at more.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Katie — August 3, 2019 @ 6:06 PM

    • Actually, I’m one of the few lucky ones.

      When in need, my neurologist and psychiatrist did communicate regularly about my health and state of mind.

      Without the two of them, I would have been dead.



      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 3, 2019 @ 6:47 PM

    • I have to agree with you! Or sometimes the family doctor like to try and play all 3 roles and then turns around in the end and says “their just a general family doctor and they don’t know what to say, prescribe, or do to help us!!”. It almost everyone “keeps passing the buck onto someone else and the family doctor want to hear the patient to begin with!!”. However NOT ALL PHYSICIANS ARE THAT WAY! Some really do THEIR BEST to work with and listen to the patient and work with their fellow colleagues 💗😊💗

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Kathy S.B — August 3, 2019 @ 11:52 PM

      • I can only speak for myself.

        But I had a physician who tried to make “everything better” by prescribing Prozac for me.

        After trying to jump off a terrace in a foreign city, I threw away the Prozac and went into a deeper funk.

        It was years before I saw a psychiatrist and, subsequently a neurologist.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 4, 2019 @ 9:45 AM

      • Goodafternoon Phylis 😃😃. I almost agree completely with you. However I guess it’s just perplexing and a bit frustrating when YOU (as an epileptic) KNOW what you need and you family doctor won’t give you or help you they way you know you need help!! Or (what felt like in my case) constantly push me onto another specialist, epileptologist that got upset with me directly (on the phone during a huge family get together for a half hour!! Because I said I refused to even try the levitromiacan other keppra) because the negatives out weighed the positives and I wasn’t will to even attempt taking them!! Mostly because of DANGERS of the NEGATIVE HIGH ISSUES it took 25 years for me to learn how to deal with for me!! TEMPER, (too many close family suicides), OTHERWISE I MAY HAVE TRIED!!!!!!! But I already knew I had a temper and I had to learn to tame it and mellow out (ONCE I HAD MY FIRST AND NEXT 2 BABIES)!! What got me was after a MAJOR CONCUSSION AND GRAND MAL SEIZURE I was left feeling like I wasn’t being heard. I never had anxiety issues until after the concussion!! Lol and I broke my sternum! But I knew what I needed to help myself get through the malls and wal marts lol BUT MY DOCTOR REFUSED TO GIVE ME THAT LORAZEPAM (LOWEST DOSE POSSIBLE)!! I guess maybe we lived through an EXTREMELY HIGH RATE OF SUICIDE (and WITNESSED A LOT) especially in “my peoples culture” and I refused to even take the risk!! Otherwise I SINCERELY WOULD HAVE TRIED!! I just fear the negatives!!!!!!! Thank you and please have a very good day today and take care 💕

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Kathy S.B — August 4, 2019 @ 4:51 PM

  3. Kathy, I don’t know if the docs are as concerned about suicide or liability.

    After all, although a physician’s responsibilities encompass a lot, his/her experience doesn’t necessarily so.

    Mine did eventually direct me to a “counselor” but it was still many years, before I got a psychiatrist and found the help that I needed.

    He is awesome. Pro-active and responsive.

    As I said, I am lucky.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 4, 2019 @ 5:01 PM

  4. Your a lucky lady Phylis!! I AM VERY HAPPY AND RELIEVED FOR YOU!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️. I understand each doctor and mental health worker and epitologist have their right concerns, but I just wish they could all work together in synchronicity as a team 💕. Thank you SO MICH FOR YOUR HONESTY!! I GREATLY APPRECIATE YOU!!!!!!! Please have a very good day today 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Kathy S.B — August 4, 2019 @ 5:16 PM

  5. And I appreciate all that you bring to this group.

    Thank YOU!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 4, 2019 @ 5:39 PM

  6. Thanks so much for your post, and your words of counsel.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Henry — January 29, 2021 @ 12:11 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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