You’ve just received an epilepsy diagnosis. Now what?
If you have epilepsy, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help keep your seizures under control. An epilepsy expert at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center explains.
Stress that’s not managed and progresses into constant anxiety or anxiety with no clear cause can trigger epilepsy seizures. Not only does stress release certain hormones that can impact the brain, but the same areas of the brain that control emotions can also be the parts of your brain where a seizure starts. Stress and constant anxiety may also impact your sleep, another risk for increased seizures.
Although stress is an unavoidable part of life, there are ways to cope so you don’t become overwhelmed and anxious. Anxiety can also take hold for no apparent reason, making a person feel constantly nervous, uneasy or in distress.
Of course, a diagnosis of epilepsy or worrying about unexpected or uncontrolled seizures can fuel more stress and anxiety as well. In some cases, anxiety can even be a side effect of epilepsy medication.
At the Ohio State Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, we understand that anxiety may not be easily controlled. The same triggers or abnormal brain functions that cause your seizures may also be responsible for your anxiety. This can lead to obsessive behaviors or agitation, which are often seen in people with epilepsy.
It can be tough to pinpoint which came first – the stress and anxiety or the epilepsy – or if they just feed each other in a frustrating cycle. Because anxiety can be caused by or also worsen both your mental and physical health, we’ll work with you to tackle your anxiety from all angles.
Even people without epilepsy can suffer stress- or anxiety-induced episodes that look similar to an epileptic seizure.
Even when a panic attack or PNEE looks similar to epilepsy, there’s no neurological connection. Testing will help differentiate between the conditions. For all three conditions, counseling, stress-reduction strategies and anti-anxiety medication may be appropriate. However, anti-seizure medication is only effective for epilepsy.