Epilepsy Treatment Behavioral

Epilepsy, the most common childhood neurological disorder, is much more prevalent in children than in adults. Psychiatric disorders occur much more frequently in children with epilepsy than in children without epilepsy. Some of the more common disorders include:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention disorders
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Hyperactivity.

It is often difficult to determine, however, whether these disorders are the:

  • Cause of epilepsy seizures
  • Effect of epilepsy seizures
  • Effect of other people’s perception of their seizures (social stigma)
  • Effect of seizure medication
  • Some combination of these factors.

Whatever the reason for the presence of such disorders, multi-dimensional therapy for epilepsy is most effective in children with cognitive and behavioral disorders. Neurobehavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy is a valuable complementary treatment to antiepileptic medication.

What are Neurobehavioral and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Neurobehavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy are used to treat a variety of neurological disorders in both children and adults. It helps the individual to identify negative thoughts and behaviors and learn to modify these to produce positive, helpful thoughts and behaviors that promote health and healing. This therapy for epilepsy also examines environmental factors that may contribute to the problem.

By adjusting patterns of thought and behavior, neurobehavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy is thought to:

  • Alleviate some of the emotional pressures that trigger seizures (i.e. fear and anxiety)
  • Give the individual a sense of power and responsibility over his seizures
  • Remove or ease the effects of mood disorders associated with epilepsy.

This therapy for epilepsy may be particularly effective in children, whose thoughts and behaviors are likely to be more malleable at a young age.

Advantages of Neurobehavioral and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

According to the Neurobehavioral Institute in Weston, Florida, neurobehavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy have been shown to be an effective method of treatment for a variety of cognitive and behavioral disorders. In some epilepsy patients, it has had the effect of reducing behavioral disorders, such as depression and anxiety.

During neurobehavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy treatments for epilepsy, the individual works closely with her therapist to formulate the right treatment plan for her. As a result, individuals tend to have a better long-term commitment to their own individualized treatment plan.

Disadvantages of Neurobehavioral and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The disadvantages of this particular therapy for epilepsy include:

  • A skilled behavioral therapist may not be available in your area.
  • Cost may be a barrier (if health insurance doesn’t cover program costs).
  • The program often requires a significant time commitment (therapy sessions continue for several months).

There are no known health risks associated with neurobehavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy for epilepsy. This is provided, of course, that the individual continues to take his prescribed seizure medication during and after behavioral therapy (unless otherwise instructed by their physician). Some individuals may be able to reduce his seizure medication after the behavioral therapy for epilepsy has been completed successfully.


Australian Association for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Staff. (n.d.). What is CBT?: Definition and background. Retrieved April 2, 2010, from http://www.aacbtwa.org.au/viewStory/Definition and Background

Ekinci, O., et al. (2009). Depression and anxiety in children and adolescents with epilepsy: Prevalence, risk factors, and treatment. Retrieved April 2, 2010, from https://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/epilepsyusa/yebeh/upload/Depression_anxiety_children_ adolescents.pdf

Epilepsy Ontario Staff. (n.d.). Behavioural therapy. Retrieved April 2, 2010, from http://www.epilepsyontario.org/client/EO/EOWeb.nsf/web/Behavioural Therapy

Hermann, B., et al. (2010). Cognition across the lifespan: Antiepileptic drugs, epilepsy, or both? Retrieved April 2, 2010, from https://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/epilepsyusa/yebeh/upload/cognition_across_lifespan _AEDs.pdf

Jeavons, M., et al. (2009). Behavioral strategies. Retrieved April 2, 2010, from http://www.aboutkidshealth.ca/Pain/Behavioural-Strategies.aspx?articleID=7129