Living With Epilepsy
If you have epilepsy, you know that living with the condition can be challenging. For many people with epilepsy, the risk of seizures restricts their independence, in particular the ability to drive. Studies show that significant school and workplace barriers still exist for people living with the condition. Fortunately, modern therapies are able to help in about 80 percent of cases.
Most people living with epilepsy lead outwardly normal lives. Approximately 80 percent of people with epilepsy can be significantly helped by modern therapies, and some may go months or years between seizures.
However, the condition can and does affect daily life for people with epilepsy, as well as their family and their friends. People who experience severe seizures that resist treatment have, on average, a shorter life expectancy and an increased risk of cognitive impairment, particularly if the seizures developed in early childhood. These impairments may be related to the underlying conditions that cause epilepsy or to epilepsy treatment rather than the epilepsy itself.
It is not uncommon for people with epilepsy, especially children, to develop behavioral and emotional problems. Sometimes these problems are caused by embarrassment or frustration associated with epilepsy. Other problems may result from bullying, teasing, or avoidance in school and other social settings.
In children, these problems can be minimized if parents encourage a positive outlook and independence, do not reward negative behavior with unusual amounts of attention, and try to stay attuned to their child's needs and feelings. Families must learn to accept and live with the seizures without blaming or resenting the affected person.
Counseling services can help families cope with epilepsy in a positive manner. Epilepsy support groups also can help by providing a way for people with epilepsy and their family members to share their experiences, frustrations, and tips for coping with the disorder.
People living with epilepsy have an increased risk of poor self-esteem, depression, and suicide. These problems may be a reaction to a lack of understanding or discomfort about epilepsy that may result in cruelty or avoidance by other people. Many people with epilepsy also live with an ever-present fear that they will have another seizure.