Self-esteem and epilepsy: how to improve it

Self-esteem is how you feel and what you believe about yourself. It’s about how you view your own worth as a person.

People with good self-esteem tend to have positive beliefs and feelings about themselves. They tend to be better at dealing with life’s ups and downs.

People with poor self-esteem tend to have negative beliefs and feelings about themselves. Low self-esteem can have a big impact on mental wellbeing and make it harder to deal with life’s challenges.

Epilepsy and self-esteem

Living with a long-term health condition such as epilepsy can have an impact on self-esteem.

For example, you might have:

  • Lost independence and had to rely on others
  • Changed how you think about yourself
  • Felt less able to do your job, be a parent, or be a carer
  • Had to stop doing your job or activities that you enjoy
  • Been told by others that you can’t do things because of your epilepsy
  • Experienced negative reactions from others

Improving self-esteem

There are some things that you can do to try and improve your self-esteem and feel better about yourself.

Recognise your negative thoughts and beliefs

If you can recognise which thoughts and beliefs are affecting your self-esteem, you can try and challenge them.

Do things that you enjoy and are good at

Think about what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at. This could be at work, when caring for others, while volunteering or doing a hobby.

Be kind to yourself

Instead of criticising yourself, try being kinder to yourself. Think about what you would say to someone else in your situation, and say it to yourself. Focus on your own skills and strengths, rather than comparing yourself to other people.

Learn to be assertive

Being assertive is about expressing your needs and knowing your own physical and emotional limits. It’s about learning when to say no. It’s also about respecting other people’s limits.

Give yourself a challenge

From time to time, everyone feels nervous about doing certain things, or feels like they can’t do something. However, if you set yourself a challenging goal and work towards it, this can have a huge impact on your self-esteem and confidence. Breaking this down into small steps can make it less daunting.

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. If you are unable to access the internet, please contact our Epilepsy Action Helpline freephone on 0808 800 5050.


Epilepsy Action would like to thank Professor Markus Reuber, Professor of Clinical Neurology at the University of Sheffield and Honorary Consultant Neurologist at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for his help in producing this information.

Professor Reuber has declared no conflict of interest.

This information has been produced under the terms of Epilepsy Action's information quality standards.

  • Updated August 2019
    To be reviewed August 2022

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