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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Epilepsy and wellbeing

In this section

About wellbeing and epilepsy

“Wellbeing is about feeling good and functioning well.”

Health experts believe that our minds and body are connected. We all need to look after both to ensure we have a good state of wellbeing.

Healthy body + healthy mind = good wellbeing

When you have epilepsy, looking after your wellbeing can help you to have as few seizures as possible. It can also improve how you feel about having seizures. As a result, you will feel better and function better in your daily life.

Looking after your body - looking after your mind

“People with long-term conditions who take more control of their health have a much better quality of life”. NHS Choices

The NHS offers advice to everyone about how to look after their body and mind.

  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Aim to get active
  • Limit your alcohol
  • Have a good sleep routine

If you follow this advice, your physical health will benefit. What’s more, so will your mental health. This is because having a healthier body reduces your risk of stress and depression.

When you have epilepsy, you have more risk of developing stress and depression than other people. So, following this advice to improve your physical and mental health can be especially helpful for you.

Following the NHS advice may also help you to reduce the number of seizures that you have. Here’s why.

Eat a well balanced diet - some people with epilepsy say that if they skip meals, they are more likely to have a seizure.

Have a good sleep routine – for some people with epilepsy, sleep is especially important. This is because disturbed sleep patterns, or not having enough good quality sleep, can make seizures more likely.

Epilepsy Action has more information about epilepsy and sleep.

Limit how much alcohol you drink - drinking small amounts of alcohol doesn’t usually increase the risk of having seizures. But if you have a history of alcohol abuse, even drinking small amounts could increase the number of seizures you have.

Drinking more than modest amounts of alcohol in 24 hours may increase the risk of having seizures.

Drinking alcohol can also make some epilepsy medicines work less well than they should. And it can make the side-effects of your epilepsy medicine worse. You might find that drinking alcohol when you are taking epilepsy medicine makes you feel drunk quicker than other people.

If you think you are drinking too much, and would like to do something about it, talk to your family doctor. They can offer you advice and support.  

If you are ‘alcohol dependent’, it means you drink heavily. If you want to cut down your drinking, it is especially important that you do this gradually. This is because there is a real risk of having seizures if you stop drinking suddenly after a long session of heavy drinking. Talk to your family doctor, who will give you advice and support. They may refer you to someone who can help you to safely reduce the amount of alcohol you drink.

Epilepsy Action has more information about epilepsy and alcohol.

Taking control of your seizures

Getting the best possible control of your seizures will improve how well you feel and how you function in your daily life. So, as well as looking after your general health, there are some more things you can do.

  • Take your epilepsy medicine
  • Recognise and avoid your seizure triggers
  • Get the best treatment for your epilepsy

Take your epilepsy medicine

Missing a dose of your epilepsy medicine could cause you to have a seizure. Here are some helpful tips to make sure this doesn’t happen.

  • If you don’t have a smartphone, use an alarm clock, alarm on your mobile phone or a pill reminder to help you remember when to take your epilepsy medicine. The Disabled Living Foundation can give you details of suppliers of pill reminders. Website: livingmadeeasy.org.uk
  • Make sure that you never run out of your epilepsy medicines.
  • Ask your epilepsy specialist or epilepsy nurse in advance what you should do if you ever forget to take your epilepsy medicines.
  • Never stop taking your epilepsy medicines, or make changes to them, without talking to your doctor first.

Recognise and avoid your seizure triggers

Some things make seizures more likely for some people with epilepsy. These are often called ‘triggers’. Here are some common triggers.

  • Forgetting to take epilepsy medicines
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Feeling stressed
  • Drinking too much alcohol

Some people with epilepsy also say they have more seizures if they miss meals.

Keeping a diary of your seizures can help you to identify things that may trigger your seizures. Make a note of what you were doing or how you were feeling before each seizure, to see if you can find any patterns.

Avoiding your triggers will lower the risk that you’ll have a seizure.

Get the best treatment for your epilepsy

  • Attend all your medical appointments to do with your epilepsy. Talk to your doctor about any changes in your epilepsy, or anything else that you are concerned about.
  • If your seizures continue, ask to be referred to an epilepsy specialist for a review of your epilepsy. They might suggest changes to your epilepsy medicines, or other possible treatments, such as surgery.
  • Keep a diary of your seizures. This can help doctors when they are considering the best treatment for you. It can also help you to see if there is a pattern to your seizures, or anything that triggers your seizures.
  • If your epilepsy is very difficult to control, ask your specialist if they can refer you to a specialist epilepsy centre for treatment. Contact Epilepsy Action for more information about this.

If you would like to see this information with references, visit the Advice and Information references section of our website. See Wellbeing and epilepsy.

Code: 
B154.01

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

This information has been produced under the terms of The Information Standard.

  • Updated December 2013
    To be reviewed December 2016

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