Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

A New Tool For Epilepsy Self-Stigma

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Jan 7, 2022

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A recent study was conducted in Japan. The purpose of the study was to create a reliable and useful epilepsy self-stigma scale. The goal of the epilepsy self-stigma scale is to measure self-stigma and help diagnose and treat depression, low self-esteem, and other issues associated with epilepsy self-stigma.

Epilepsy has historically been misunderstood by many. In most countries, including Japan, there are very negative associations with epilepsy, including mental instability and even demonic possession. These negative connotations not only create a public stigma that is experienced by the individual with epilepsy. It can also create a negative self-stigma that is internalized and manifests into a myriad of problems for the individual. This can affect individuals suffering from the condition in a multitude of ways. Employers may not want to hire individuals with epilepsy. It may be harder to find a marriage partner. They may even be treated as inferior by their families due to a lack of understanding of the condition.

A questionnaire was used to conduct this study. While two hundred patients were issued the questionnaire, only one hundred usable questionnaires were returned. The questionnaire identified three factors associated with self-stigma: internalization, societal understanding, and confidentiality. The patients ranged in age from eighteen to eighty-four.

The results of the study found that the epilepsy self-stigma scale was very dependable. It was noted in the study that assessments of the patients regarding their level of self-stigma were conducted by a physician. The results of this assessment and the results of the patient’s own assessment using the self-stigma scale did not support one another. Questionnaires of this nature can help physicians identify and treat issues that may arise in patients with epilepsy.

Epilepsy Self-Stigma Pitfalls

Due to the negative societal associations with epilepsy, individuals with the condition oftentimes internalize these associations and end up in a negative feedback loop. This can be a serious problem for epilepsy patients because they can fall into depression and become suicidal. Other issues can arise due to depression or lack of self-esteem. Individuals may have a hard time finding gainful employment. They may struggle with interpersonal relationships. They may even struggle to exist in a social setting.

The problem for physicians treating these patients is oftentimes an inability to recognize or diagnose the issue, leaving a serious gap in the patient’s treatment. The epilepsy self-stigma scale can be a useful and valuable tool in resolving this issue. For this study, the physician was asked to assess self-stigma levels in the patients. The results suggested that the objective evaluation of the physician did not match up to the patients’ perceptions of themselves.

A Useful Tool For Physicians

The epilepsy self-stigma scale can help eliminate this gap in treatment by giving the physician a better look into the psyche of the patient suffering from epilepsy. This can afford more timely interventions and potentially head off larger issues that could manifest down the road. If a physician can determine that a patient with epilepsy has depression, they can potentially intervene with resources, therapy, and even medications. This could greatly improve the patient’s quality of life. It could potentially even save the patient’s life if they are having suicidal thoughts.

The epilepsy self-stigma scale could also be used to help create public education programs that educate the public and families of individuals suffering from epilepsy. By using this tool as a demonstration of how individuals suffering from epilepsy see themselves and feel like their peers see them, the truth about the stigmas of epilepsy can be exposed and potentially eradicated.




Topics: Living with Epilepsy