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Living Well with Epilepsy

People with epilepsy can lead healthy, productive lives. Life with epilepsy can be challenging, but there are things you can do to make it easier. For example, you can pay attention to your emotions. If you feel down, upset, or scared, talk with your healthcare provider. And be open with the people in your life. Talking about epilepsy can help them understand. It can also help you feel better.

Coping with emotions

You may be scared to go out in public for fear of having a seizure. Or you may just get frustrated with having epilepsy. Such feelings are normal. But they can lead to anxiety and depression. Treatment is available for these conditions, so talk with your healthcare provider. Discuss what can help you, such as the following:

  • Support groups. These groups let you talk with other people who have epilepsy.

  • Counseling. Talking with a counselor can help you learn to cope with your emotions and health problems.

  • Medicine. This can help if you have a mood disorder.

Recognizing signs of depression

Depression is an illness that affects your thoughts and feelings. It can be caused by trouble coping with epilepsy, and sometimes it may be caused by the medicines used to treat it. Depression can be serious. If you have any of the following, call your healthcare provider:

  • Feeling down most of the time

  • Feeling hopeless or helpless

  • Losing pleasure in things you used to enjoy

  • Sleeping less or more than usual

  • Having a big change in appetite or weight

  • Having trouble focusing, remembering, or making decisions

  • Staying away from friends or family 

Coping at home

Epilepsy affects those around you, too. Talk with your loved ones and learn their concerns. For instance, your children may be afraid for your safety. Reassure them that you can live a long, healthy life with epilepsy. Your partner may wonder if a normal sex life is possible. Let him or her know that epilepsy doesn’t have to affect your love life. If loved ones have questions, you can always arrange a talk with your healthcare provider.

Epilepsy and your job

Epilepsy doesn’t have to keep you from working. In fact, people with epilepsy hold many kinds of jobs. But there are some issues you should consider, such as:

  • What kind of work can I do? This depends on several things, such as how well controlled your seizures are. Also think about whether the job involves tasks that may not be safe for you. These include driving or operating heavy machinery.

  • Should I tell my boss or coworkers about my epilepsy? This is your personal choice. But you may be safer if people at your workplace are prepared to respond to a seizure. If you are concerned about losing your job, know your rights. The Americans with Disabilities Act provides work-related protections for people with epilepsy.

© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.