Many young people who are suffering from epilepsy also experience other issues with their health and their mental state. In fact, 50% of young people with epilepsy will experience issues such as neurocognitive comorbidities, developmental issues, such as autism, and psychiatric issues, such as depression. Around 20% of young people who have epilepsy also say that they have ideas and thoughts of suicide.
How Does Epilepsy Affect Other Areas of Health?
Those who have these thoughts may not have clinical depression, and even though a patient 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 the epilepsy.
For example, those who suffer from epilepsy could have a range of social difficulties. It is likely that they are going to worry about their seizures and their seizure activity level quite a bit. They worry about what might happen if they are not treating their condition properly, and wondering whether they need to follow all the rules. They also know and worry about the stigma that still surrounds those who are suffering from 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 also 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, and other issues. It can also be helpful to have more information on self and family management of epilepsy.
While all of this can seem overwhelming, it is very important to make sure that you or your loved ones have the help you need to deal with not only the epilepsy, but all of the other factors that could be affecting their health and social outlook. This is particularly true for youths at an increased risk, such as those who have already shown that they have treatment-resistant epilepsy, developmental, cognitive, or psychiatric problems.