Watch out for these unseen impacts of epilepsy on mental well-being

Health expert decodes the unseen impact of epilepsy on one’s mental well-being

Published on Feb 23, 2024 07:00 AM IST 5 Photos

Depression, anxiety, stress and cognitive impairment is a common occurrence in patients detected with epilepsy. Epilepsy happens when one experiences unpredictable seizures. In an interview with Zarafshan Shiraz of HT Lifestyle, Dr Priyanka Tater, Neurologist at Zynova Shalby Hospital, explained, “While it affects people of all ages, it often develops in childhood or later adulthood. While the most well-known symptom of epilepsy is convulsions or jerking movements, there are several other signs to be aware of. These may include temporary confusion or loss of awareness, unusual sensations such as tingling or an odd taste or smell and staring spells where the individual appears to be unresponsive.” (Photo from Shutterstock)

According to Dr Priyanka Tater, “Some people with epilepsy experience repetitive movements such as blinking or chewing without being able to control it.  It's important to note that symptoms can vary widely from person to person and may change over time within an individual. Some with epilepsy are also known to display emotional symptoms such as fear and anxiety, before having a seizure.” (Photo from Pixabay)

Talking about how epilepsy takes a toll on one’s mental well-being, Dr Priyanka Tater said, “The fear of experiencing a seizure may cause anxiety and distress, especially in social or academic settings. Epilepsy can also disrupt your daily activities, such as education, work, socializing, and travel. It is common for individuals with epilepsy to feel anxious or depressed before a seizure and experience emotional turmoil afterward as the brain recuperates. These various aspects of living with epilepsy can result in mental health issues like anxiety, depression, panic attacks, eating disorders, loneliness, cognitive impairment, or obsessive-compulsive behaviour. Understanding epilepsy goes beyond recognizing its physical symptoms as many individuals also face stigma and misconceptions that can deeply impact their lives. For instance, the fear of having a seizure in public may lead to social isolation and anxiety, adding an emotional burden to the already challenging condition.” (Photo by Frank Sorge/IMAGO)

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Dr Priyanka Tater elaborated, “Memory problems and difficulty concentrating are common in individuals with this disorder, affecting their ability to perform daily tasks and impacting their overall quality of life. In addition to medication side effects that may affect mood or cognition, frequent doctor visits and lifestyle adjustments can contribute to feelings of frustration and helplessness. Experts must recognise these mental health challenges in patients with epilepsy and provide comprehensive support beyond just managing the physical aspects of the condition.” (Photo by Unsplash)

Concluding, Dr Priyanka Tater advised, “When addressing mental health needs in epilepsy care, the experts must adopt a holistic approach that integrates mental health support into the overall treatment plan. This can involve regular screenings for depression and anxiety, as well as proactive discussions about the potential mental health impact of epilepsy. Implementing collaborative care models that involve both neurologists and mental health professionals can also be highly effective in addressing the complex interplay between epilepsy and psychological well-being.  Providing education to patients and their families is essential in empowering them to recognise the signs of declining mental health and seek appropriate support. Incorporating stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness-based interventions or cognitive-behavioural therapy can help manage the emotional toll of living with epilepsy. By prioritising an integrated approach that places equal emphasis on physical and mental well-being, it is possible to improve the patient’s overall quality of life.”(File Photo)

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