Many young people who are suffering from epilepsy experience other issues with their health and mental state too. In fact, 50% of young people with epilepsy will experience issues such as neurocognitive comorbidities, developmental issues like autism, and psychiatric issues like depression. Also, Around 20% of young people who have epilepsy say that they have ideas and thoughts of suicide.
How Does Epilepsy Affect Other Areas of Health?
Pediatric patients who have these thoughts may not have clinical depression, but even though they might not have a clinical comorbid diagnosis, according to Dr. Janelle L. Wagner, PhD, and Chelsea Weyand, PsyD, ABPP, they can still have problems with their daily social lives due to epilepsy.
For example, those who suffer from epilepsy could have a range of social difficulties. Often, epileptic patients worry about their seizures and seizure activity level quite a bit. They worry about what might happen if they are not treating their condition properly and wonder whether they need to follow all the rules. Unfortunately, these patients also have to worry about the stigma that still surrounds epilepsy.
These worries, for the youths who are suffering, as well as for the parents who care about those kids, find that mental health systems can even have a more profound affect on a person’s quality of life than the seizures themselves.
Proper Care for Epilepsy
Providers need to make sure that they are providing their patients not only with the proper care needed for their seizures, such as the use of antiepileptic drugs, but also ensure that their patients have any behavioral health needs cared for as well. In fact, there are indicators approved by the American Academy of Neurology that “recommend routine assessment of psychosocial functioning at each epilepsy encounter for the delivery of optimal care and better outcomes for persons with epilepsy” according to Neurology.
While having behavioral healthcare integrated into epilepsy care, not all clinics will have a behavioral health professional on hand who can provide this care. Those who suffer from epilepsy may want to take time to speak with a behavioral health specialist in another clinic if this is the case for their epilepsy center.
Some of the types of recommended behavioral health screening can include assessments for suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, ADHD, etc.. More information on personal and family management of epilepsy may be helpful.
While all of this can seem overwhelming, it is very important to make sure that you or your loved ones have the help needed to deal with all factors affecting their epilepsy, mental health and social anxiety. In particular, youth is at an increased risk for these conditions, especially for those patients who have shown signs of treatment-resistant epilepsy, developmental, cognitive or psychiatric problems.
RSC Diagnostic Services delivers in-home ambulatory long-term video EEG. RSC empowers physicians by increasing the diagnostic yield to evaluate, diagnose and treat a variety of neurological symptoms. We are committed to improving patient outcomes and enhancing caregiving.