5 ways stress and depression can affect epilepsy


Patients’ conditions can dramatically affect their quality of life in several ways. Healthcare professionals should be aware of how these conditions can affect the mental health of patients. Epilepsy, in part due to the nature and effects of recurrent seizures, can cause psychiatric co-morbidities. Major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder have been identified as common comorbidities of epilepsy.

Healthcare professionals may need training on how epilepsy affects a person’s daily life, in what ways the effects of a seizure can persist, and how the stress and depression that results from it can. have an impact on the overall health of the patient.

  1. Neuroinflammation

A 2021 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences examined the impact of stress on patients with epilepsy, focusing on neuroinflammation². Neuroinflammatory responses to seizures can potentially worsen epileptic disease, and researchers have put forward a theory that neuroinflammation caused by acute and chronic stress can make patients even more susceptible to seizures.


Read on

Healthcare professionals can attribute much of the stress patients with epilepsy face to the disease itself: the stigma of the disease, fear of the unpredictable nature of seizures, and the lifestyle changes that patients experience. must operate. Working with patients to understand their stress and find a coping mechanism, with or without pharmacological agents, can be important in patient management.

  1. Frequency of seizures

The researchers note that chronic stress in patients with epilepsy is often directly related to an increased frequency of seizures. An increased frequency may be common in epilepsy if a patient has psychiatric comorbidities; anxiety and depression often predict an increase in seizures, and the inflammatory response to acute stress can eventually last for weeks after the stressor. Stress reduction mechanisms and psychiatric treatment should be included in harm management aimed at reducing the frequency of seizures in patients.

  1. Disability

Patients with epilepsy who also suffer from depression are at greater risk of having reduced quality of life, which can manifest in several ways. For example, these patients have a higher disability rate than those without depression. The way depression is triggered or exacerbated can also manifest itself in different ways; researchers say men may be more likely to be influenced by social factors, while women may be more likely to be influenced by epilepsy itself.

  1. Decreased sleep and activity

Stress and depression can lead to lifestyle changes in patients, including trouble sleeping and reduced physical activity. A study from February 2021 in Seizures examined how young people with epilepsy feel the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their care and mental state .³ Most of the young people interviewed in the study said they slept less and engaged in less physical activity. Caregivers have also reported an increase in their own stress and anxiety. Sleep deprivation can lead to even more stress and depression, so determining how patients sleep can be important to managing their condition.

  1. Treatment anxiety

As mentioned earlier, much of the stress and anxiety in epilepsy patients comes from the epilepsy itself and its treatment. Finding ways to deal with both epilepsy and depression can be stressful. Some medications for depression can even increase the risk of a seizure. Fear of inconsistent or ineffective treatment can cause much of the stress that a patient experiences.

The references

1. Lu E, Pyatka N, Chief Justice Burant, Sajatovic M. Systematic review of the literature on psychiatric comorbidities in adults with epilepsy. J Clin Neurol. 2021; 17 (2): 176-186. doi: 10.3988 / jcn.2021.17.2.176

2. Espinosa-Garcia C, Zeleke H, Rojas A. Impact of stress on epilepsy: focus on neuroinflammation – a mini review. Int J Mol Sci. 2021; 22 (8): 4061. doi: 10.3390 / ijms22084061

3. Reilly C, Muggeridge A, Cross JH. Perceived impact of COVID-19 and associated restrictions on young people with epilepsy in the UK: survey of young people and caregivers. Epileptic crisis. 2021; 85: 111-114. doi: 10.1016 / j.seizure.2020.12.024


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