How to Cope With Having Epilepsy

Two Parts:Dealing with EpilepsyManaging Your Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes nerve cells in the brain to become disrupted, resulting in seizures or periods of unusual behavior, as well as sensations and occasional loss of consciousness.[1] Epilepsy is a diagnosis made when a person has any of the following: at least two unprovoked (not caused by a fever, drug use, hitting your head, etc) seizures occurring more than 24 hours apart; or diagnosis of an epilepsy syndrome, such as a genetic disorder or other neurological disorder known to have epilepsy as a component. Although seizure disorders such as epilepsy are common in the United States, they can be scary for someone suffering from it and even for their family members. Seizures can also be very dangerous if they last more than a few minutes without stopping. If someone has seizures in public with individuals who are not knowledgeable about epilepsy, it may also make the person feel self-conscious. But by building your confidence and getting support, you will be able to cope with your epilepsy.

Part 1
Dealing with Epilepsy

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    Schedule an appointment with your doctor. If you experience seizures or similar symptoms of epilepsy, it’s important to see your doctor for treatment. Symptoms of epilepsy can be dangerous and seeing your doctor may help you minimize them. In addition, seizures themselves can be dangerous and need to be controlled with medications. Treatment may also help you more effectively cope with the disorder.[2]
    • Your doctor may order blood tests to determine if infections, genetic conditions, or other underlying conditions are causing your epilepsy.[3] Sometimes seizures are a sign of an underlying problem in the brain, like a tumor, and therefore need to be evaluated by a doctor.
    • Your doctor may conduct a neurological examination that tests behavior, motor skills, and mental function.[4]
    • Your doctor may also order imagining tests such as electroencephalogram, computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), or single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT). These can help your doctor examine your brain in greater detail.[5]
    • Make sure to find a doctor who you like and with whom you feel comfortable. She can help you more effectively and comfortably deal with your epilepsy.[6]
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    Embrace your disorder. In many cases, you may always have epilepsy and even as much as you can control it, it will remain a part of your life. Learning to embrace the place of the disorder in your life can help you cope with it more effectively.[7]
    • Although having epilepsy may feel overwhelming at times, you can still still live a full, active, and rewarding life.[8]
    • Consider giving yourself daily positive affirmations to help yourself cope with epilepsy. You might want to say something like “I am strong and can handle this.” This may boost your confidence and also help you more readily accept your epilepsy.[9]
    • Part of embracing your disorder is learning to not constantly worry about having a seizure. You’ve likely taken all of the steps to help control seizures and avoiding constant worrying may help control how often you have them.[10]
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    Maintain an independent lifestyle. As much as it is possible, stay as independent as you can. This can help you cope with the disorder and not feel like you’re beholden to others.[11]
    • Keep working if you can. If not, consider doing other activities that can keep you busy and engaged with others.[12]
    • If you are unable to drive, take public transportation. You might even consider moving to a more urban area with better infrastructure to help you maintain your independence.[13]
    • Schedule social activities as often as you want or are able. This can help you stay engaged with others and may even help you momentarily forget your disorder.[14]
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    Educate yourself and loved ones. The old truism that knowledge is power can be an important way for you to cope with your epilepsy. Educating yourself as well as family members and friends about the disorder may help everyone understand what you’re going through, provide you the support you need, and more effectively cope with it.[15]
    • You can use online resources to teach you and your loved ones more about epilepsy and give you ideas on how best to cope with the disorder. For example, the Epilepsy Foundation offers several courses and resources on epilepsy and the ways in which to best cope with self-esteem issues related to it.[16]
    • There are online forums from the Epilepsy Foundation and Mayo Clinic that offer educational tools and programs to inform anyone with whom you are in contact about epilepsy. Many of these are specific to groups such as children, the elderly, transportation, and bereavement.[17]
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    Communicate with people. Talking with people about your epilepsy can be an important part of dealing with the disorder. Being open about your epilepsy may minimize the risk of uncomfortable situations, questions, or looks. This in turn may put you further at ease.[18]
    • Being open about your epilepsy is an excellent method of coping rather than getting discouraged about it. If other people realize that you're okay with your disorder, then they will likely be, too.[19]
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    Ignore social stigmas. Most people are socialized, but there are still lingering social stigmas attached to epilepsy. These stigmas, which often arise because of lack of information, may evoke feelings of shame, stress, anxiety, or depression in you. Learning to ignore social stigmas and negative reactions can help you to move forward and have an full and active life.[20]
    • Epileptics often feel shame and embarrassment when they have seizures in public. However, unless you avoid going out altogether, you may likely have a seizure in public. Not worrying about how other people may react and ignoring any negative reactions can help you more readily cope with the disorder.[21] You may even find that people are genuinely helpful, concerned and eager to learn more about your condition.[22]
    • At the root of worrying about what people think is that you attach yourself to an outcome you can’t control. Repeating the mantra “what other people think about me is none of my business” may help you gradually disconnect from social stigmas.[23]
    • Rechanneling the negative energy may also help. Simply take a deep breath, repeat your manta and think of something positive, like doing an activity you love.[24]
    • Practice self-love and self-acceptance. For example, tell yourself “I may have epilepsy, but it doesn’t have me. I can go out and walk and laugh with others.”[25]
    • Seeing a counselor, doctor, or even talking to a close friend can also help you work through your feelings.[26]
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    Join a support group for epileptics. Joining a support group for epileptics can offer you unconditional support from other people who can truly understand what you’re experiencing. A support group may also help you more effectively cope with various aspects of the disorder.[27]
    • Fellow epileptics may help boost your confidence and accept your disorder.[28]
    • There are support groups for different groups who suffer from epilepsy. This includes the elderly in children.[29] For example, the Epilepsy Foundation offers overnight camps for children suffering from epilepsy.[30]
    • The Epilepsy Foundation offers various resources to find affiliate support groups at You can also call their national office twenty-four hours a day, seven days at a week at 1-800-332-1000.[31]

Part 2
Managing Your Epilepsy

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    Take your medication correctly. Not taking your medication as instructed by your doctor can cause you to have more seizures or even endanger you.[32] Speak to your doctor if you are experiencing any issues with your medication.[33]
    • Don’t adjust your medication dose or skip it until you speak to your doctor.[34]
    • If you have any questions or concerns about side effects or how you’re feeling, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.[35]
    • In some cases, a pharmacist may be able to answer any questions or address concerns you may have.
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    Wear a medic alert bracelet. You may want to wear a bracelet that alerts emergency medical personnel or even good Samaritans about your condition. This can help others know how to treat you correctly if you have a seizure.[36]
    • You can get medic alert bracelets from many pharmacies, medical supply stores, and even some online retailers.
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    Manage stress. Stress may exacerbate epilepsy and promote feelings of anxiety and depression you have. Stay away from stressful situations as much as you are able and this can help relax you and may minimize your epileptic episodes.[37]
    • Organizing your day with a flexible schedule that incorporates time to relax can reduce your stress.[38]
    • Avoid stressful situations if possible. If you cannot, take deep breaths and don’t react, which may exacerbate anxiety and your symptoms of epilepsy.[39]
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    Allow yourself to rest. A lack of sleep or fatigue can trigger seizures. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep every night and taking naps when needed may help minimize the number of seizures you have.[40]
    • Not getting enough sleep can also cause tension and stress and pain.[41]
    • Short naps of 20-30 minutes help you to stay fresh and alleviate fatigue.[42]
    • Get up and go to bed at the same time every day to establish a pattern for your body.[43]
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    Exercise regularly. Getting regular exercise can keep you healthy and minimize symptoms of depression associate with epilepsy. Do some kind of sport daily, which may minimize your seizures.[44]
    • Try and get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.[45]
    • Exercise releases chemicals called endorphins. These may improve your mood and help you sleep.[46]
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    Consume healthy foods. Eating unhealthy foods may increase stress and anxiety and make your seizures worse. Consuming healthy foods can improve your health and may help you manage your epilepsy more effectively.[47]
    • Eat healthy, balanced, and regular meals.
    • Consume between 1,800-2,200 calories per day, depending on your activity level. Eat nutrient-dense whole grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and lean proteins.[48]
    • In addition, certain foods contain nutrients that can enhance your mood and may also relieve stress. These include asparagus, avocados, and beans.[49]
    • It’s also important to your health to stay hydrated. Women should drink at least 9 cups of water a day. Men should have at least 13 cups. You may need up to 16 cups of water a day if you are very active or pregnant.[50]
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    Limit caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake consumption and quit or limit tobacco use. These substances not only can increase stress and anxiety, but may make your seizures more frequent or worse.[51]
    • Most people can ingest 400mg of caffeine daily. This is the equivalent of about four cups of coffee or ten cans of soda.[52]
    • Women should drink no more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day and men no more than 3-4.[53] A bottle of wine, for example, has 9-10 units of alcohol.[54]


  • If you have emergency medication, make sure you always have it with you.


  • If you feel a seizure coming on, go to a safe place away from furniture or other objects that could injure you, and lie down to prevent yourself from falling, ideally with something soft under your head. Also, alert someone nearby in case you have a seizure that does not stop spontaneously, so that they can call EMS.
  • If you think you are about to have a seizure, seek help if possible. Although rarely life-threatening, seizures can result in injury in some situations. If your seizures cause you to lose normal awareness, having someone around as you come to may be helpful if you experience disorientation.

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