Mental Health & Epilepsy

The terms Mental Health and Behavioral Health are very different and yet can influence how they each impact our lives.  Managing our lives as well as epilepsy and seizures can be challenging to navigate at times but looking at our whole selves and overall wellness is a meaningful first step. 

What is Mental Health?

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices.

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, poor mental health and mental illness are not the same. A person can experience poor mental health and not be diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person diagnosed with a mental illness can experience periods of physical, mental, and social well-being.

Resources: MentalHealth.gov

What is Behavorial Health?

Behavioral health relates to the connection between your behavior and the health of your mind, body, and spirit. It is the way your habits affect your mental and physical health and wellness.

Resources: InSync Healthcare Solutions

Mental Health and Epilepsy

A crucial part of epilepsy self-management is mental health. People with epilepsy have a higher rate of depression and anxiety disorders than the general population. Several factors may explain this increased prevalence. The cause of the person’s epilepsy, such as a head injury, stroke, or central nervous system infection, can all contribute to depressive and anxiety disorders.

Epilepsy can cause disruption in the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) in the brain and can present many stressors such as the loss of driving, difficulty at work, and fear of having a seizure at an inopportune time or place. In children, seizures can impact school both academically and socially. These significant ongoing sources of stress can contribute to the development of anxiety and mood problems. The treatment of epilepsy can have a positive, neutral, or negative impact on mood and anxiety

Most prevalent mental health conditions in people with epilepsy:

  • Depression:
    • 30-35% of people with epilepsy also experience depression
  • Anxiety: 
    • 10–25% of patients with epilepsy and, in the majority, this is a generalized anxiety disorder
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD):
    • ≥ 20% of children with epilepsy have clinical ADHD 
    • 1 in 5 adults with epilepsy experience ADHD symptoms 

Resources: CDC, BMJ Journals, Healthline.com, PubMed.gov

[Download Emotional & Behavior Health Booklet]


For more information on Mental Health and available resources in Minnesota, contact NAMI Minnesota.


If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, contact the Minnesota Department of Human Services at **CRISIS (274747) on your cell phone or text “MN” to 741741.


Managing Anxiety and Depression in Epilepsy Webinar

Hear from a clinical psychologist from the Minnesota Epilepsy Group to understand what anxiety and depression can look like in individuals living with epilepsy, ranging from children to adults. Join us to learn different coping strategies for self-management, know when additional professional help is needed, and how to access it,


Thriving with Epilepsy

Managing Your Mental Health

Brette has spoken alongside our staff and members of our Professional Advisory Board to share advice about managing mental health. “I have extremely supportive family and friends, but no one understands the impact of epilepsy on emotional and physical health.”

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Upcoming Connect Groups

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13

Dec

Customized Virtual Connect: Parents with Epilepsy

Parents living with epilepsy come together to meet others, share the triumphs and challenges of living with seizures and connect with those who understand the epilepsy journey. For more information, contact Lisa Peterson at lisa.peterson@efmn.org or 218-624-1330. In order to ensure we can provide the best experience possible, we need

05

Jan

Young Adult Connect Group

A space for young adults with epilepsy to meet others and talk about life updates, challenges, and successes with others who understand the epilepsy journey. This is a young adult-led group looking to create peer-to-peer support and connection. For more information, please contact Angela Bowles Edwards at abedwards@efmn.org or 651-368-6209.

10

Jan

Teen Virtual Connect Group

Parents living with epilepsy come together to meet others, share the triumphs and challenges of living with seizures and connect with those who understand the epilepsy journey. For more information, please contact Lisa Peterson at lisa.peterson@efmn.org or 218-624-1330. To ensure we can provide the best experience possible, we need a

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Information Services

Our Information Services team provides free, one-on-one support for all people affected by epilepsy, whether directly or tangentially. For more information about epilepsy, mental health, and other questions, visit Information Services.

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