11 common myths about epilepsy busted

Despite scientific advances, it is unfortunate that even today there are fears, misunderstandings, discrimination and social stigma surrounding a person with epilepsy. So, we contacted Dr. Nirmala Lahoti, general practitioner at Practice, and asked him to shatter some common myths related to epilepsy. Read on to find out everything she shared!

1. Epilepsy is a rare disease

No. Epilepsy is not a very rare disease. It affects 50 million people around the world. In India, epilepsy has been identified as a public health problem. It is the second disease affecting the brain in both urban and rural populations. It is estimated that in India (with a population of over 1 billion), there are 6-10 million people with epilepsy.

2. People with epilepsy are mentally ill

No. Epilepsy is not the same as mental illness and, in fact, the majority of people with seizures do not develop mental health problems. There may be associated mood issues like anxiety or depression in a patient with epilepsy due to their illness and associated issues.

3. People with epilepsy are violent or crazy

No. The belief that people with epilepsy are violent is an unfortunate image that is both false and destructive. People with epilepsy are not more prone to severe irritability and aggressive behavior than other people. Many features of seizures and their immediate sequelae can easily be interpreted as “crazy” or “violent behavior”. During seizures, some people may not answer questions, may say gibberish, undress, repeat a word or phrase, crumple important papers, or may appear scared and scream. Some are confused immediately after a seizure and if they are restrained or prevented from moving, they can become restless and combative. However, once the attack is over, they return to normal and generally display normal behavior between attacks.

4. Children with epilepsy are boring

With the exception of children born with obvious mental health problems, children with epilepsy have normal intelligence and should be encouraged by parents and teachers to attend school and complete their education.

5. Epilepsy is a curse or the wrath of God

No. It is regrettable that even today we are faced with such questions. Epilepsy has nothing to do with curses, possession, or other supernatural processes, such as punishment for past sins. Like asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure, epilepsy is a disease of the brain and can affect anyone, regardless of their “actions”.

6. Epilepsy is spread by touching or coughing

No, epilepsy is not spread by touch or cough. People who are attacked need help and bystanders should not refrain from helping the person because of such irrational beliefs.

No. Some people think that a seizure can be stopped by making the person smell like bunions or dirty shoes, or by placing a metal key in the person’s hand. These are irrational beliefs. Parents, friends and teachers of people with epilepsy should be told what to do with a seizure.

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8. Medicines for epilepsy are ineffective

No. Medicines for epilepsy are essential for the control of epileptic seizures and should not be overlooked. The full treatment should be discussed with your doctor and the treatment should be adhered to.

9. Marriage is a cure for epilepsy

No. Marriage is an important part of life, but not a cure for epilepsy.

10. The life of a person with epilepsy is miserable

No. The life of a person with epilepsy can be very manageable and very similar to the life of people without epilepsy as long as you take a positive approach to life. A very important aspect in managing epilepsy is accepting treatment as an integral part of your life. Taking medication on a daily basis can sometimes discourage you. However, don’t let this affect your life.

11. Epilepsy is a barrier to a happy and successful life

No. People with epilepsy can live happy and successful lives. With the advent of new drugs, the availability of medical care, and increased awareness of the disease, it has become possible for a person with epilepsy to lead a good life. There are many famous poets, writers and sportsmen with epilepsy who have excelled in their respective fields. A positive approach to life’s problems is the key to success and contentment. Our negative view of illness needs to be challenged and it will certainly help people lead normal and happy lives.

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