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 to 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 to your healthcare provider. Discuss what can help you, such as the following:
Support groups give you the chance to talk with other people who have epilepsy.
Counseling helps you learn to cope with your emotions and health problems.
Medicine 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
Isolating yourself 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 intimacy. 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, like how well controlled your seizures are. Also consider 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.