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Life with epilepsy can be hard. But there are things you can do to make it easier. Pay attention to your emotions. If you feel down, upset, or scared, talk to your doctor. And be open with the people in your life. Talking about epilepsy can help them understand. It can also help you feel better.
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 doctor. 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.
Medication can help if you have a mood disorder.
Depression is an illness that affects your thoughts and feelings. It can be caused by trouble coping with epilepsy. Depression can be serious. If you have any of the following, call your doctor:
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
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 doctor.
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, such as 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.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke800-352-9424www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/epilepsy/epilepsy.htm
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission800-669-4000www.eeoc.gov/facts/epilepsy.html