Epilepsy Coping

People with epilepsy face many challenges as a result of their disorder, and each stage of life often brings with it a whole new series of obstacles.

If you assume responsibility for your own health, you’ll likely be able to enjoy the highest quality of life possible. You can’t change the fact that you have a seizure disorder, but you are in charge of your lifestyle choices.

Coping with Epilepsy: Physical Wellbeing

Every one of us has a seizure threshold, or a certain level of abnormal electrochemical activity in the brain that a person can tolerate before he has a seizure. People with epilepsy have a lower seizure threshold than healthy individuals. By maintaining optimum physical health, you can increase your seizure threshold, which may lower seizure frequency as a result. Many of the common seizure triggers can be avoided with a healthy lifestyle. Some of these triggers include:

  • Changes in blood sugar level
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Illness
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Stress
  • Using illicit drugs.

For those living with epilepsy, a healthy lifestyle involves eating a balanced diet and getting an adequate amount of daily exercise.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for anyone who is taking antiepileptic medication for her seizures. Seizure medication can produce vitamin deficiencies. You can combat this by giving your body the nutrients it needs. It’s also important to minimize alcohol intake, as alcohol can trigger seizures and interfere with your body’s ability to metabolize your seizure medication.

Studies conducted by Epilepsy Ontario show that people living with epilepsy are only half as active as the general population. Physical exercise, however, is vital to good physical and mental health. It’s also an excellent way for both children and adults to increase social contact. You may, however, want to speak to your doctor before undertaking a new exercise regime, as there are some restrictions on certain activities for individuals with epilepsy.

Coping with Epilepsy: Mental Wellbeing

People who are coping with epilepsy are at heightened risk for certain mental conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fear (of when and where their next seizure might occur)
  • Low self esteem
  • Other mood disorders.

These conditions can trigger seizures, which is why good mental health is so important. Many people don’t even realize these feelings or mood disorders are a result of their epilepsy, and therefore don’t seek help for them. It’s vitally important that anyone dealing with anxiety, depression or any other mood disorder seek help from her doctor.

Epilepsy Support Groups

Connecting with a local epilepsy foundation or epilepsy support group can provide care and support to individuals living with epilepsy and to their families. These groups can offer:

  • Advocacy
  • Education on epilepsy and tips on coping with epilepsy
  • Health services
  • Individual and familial support
  • Mutually beneficial support between you and others with epilepsy.

Resources

Epilepsy Action Staff. (n.d.). Lifestyle issues. Retrieved April 2, 2010, from http://www.epilepsy.org.au/lifestyle_issues.asp

Epilepsy Ontario Staff. (n.d.). Wellness and quality of life (kit). Retrieved April 2, 2010, from http://www.epilepsyontario.org/client/EO/EOWeb.nsf/web/Wellness