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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Epilepsy and wellbeing

Wellbeing is about feeling good and functioning well. 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 are more likley to feel better and function better in your daily life.

In this section

Looking after your body - looking after your mind

You might feel that your mind and body are separate, but looking after your physical health can have a big impact on your mental wellbeing.

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

  • Eat a well balanced diet
  • Get active
  • Limit your alcohol
  • Have a good sleep routine

If you follow this advice, your physical and mental health will benefit. What’s more, following the advice may also help you to have fewer seizures. 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.

Get active – exercise can help you to feel less stressed. Many people with epilepsy find that if they feel stressed they are more likely to have a seizure.

Limit how much alcohol you drink – drinking small or modest amounts doesn’t usually increase the risk of having seizures. But moderate to heavy drinking over a short space of time can make you more likely to have a seizure. Excessive drinking can also make some epilepsy medicines work less well.

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

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

Taking your medicine as prescribed is one of the most important things you can do to keep your seizures under control. Missing a dose can increase your risk of having a seizure.  

Here are some helpful tips for taking your medicine:

  • Make sure you never run out of your epilepsy medicine
  • Ask your epilepsy specialist or epilepsy nurse in advance what you should do if you ever forget to take your epilepsy medicine
  • Never stop taking your epilepsy medicine, or make changes to it, without talking to your doctor first

Studies have shown that many people with epilepsy do not take their medicine regularly. And many people do not realise they are missing doses.

If you find it hard to remember to take your medicine, or are not sure if you are missing doses, you could:

  • Count out how many pills you need for two weeks and put them in a box. Put a reminder in your diary or calendar for two weeks’ time. When it gets to that date check if there are any pills left in the box to see if you’ve missed any doses
  • Set a reminder on your phone to take your medicine. If you have a smartphone, you could download a medicine reminder app
  • Ask your pharmacist if they sell pill organisers (sometimes called a dosette box). These keep your medicines organised and may help you to take the right ones at the right time
  • Get a pill box with an alarm that alerts you when it’s time to take your medicine. The Disabled Living Foundation has details of suppliers.
  • Write an instruction to yourself about where you will take your medicine, when you will take it and what you will be doing at the time. For example: I will take my morning tablets in the bathroom, at 7am when I brush my teeth. Research has shown that writing this sort of instruction and reading it back to yourself at least three times can help to lay down an ‘automatic’ reminder in your memory

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:

  • Missing doses of epilepsy medicine
  • 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

UK guidelines say you should have a review of your epilepsy treatment at least once a year. This could be with your GP or with an epilepsy specialist. If you normally see your GP about your epilepsy, but your seizures are not fully controlled, you could ask them to refer you to a specialist.

If your seizures are very difficult to control, your specialist may refer you to a specialist epilepsy centre. Guidelines recommend you are referred to a specialist centre if you are still having seizures after trying two medicines or more, or after two years. A specialist centre will look again at your diagnosis and epilepsy medicines, to make sure you are getting the best treatment.

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.

Code: 
B154.02

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 The Information Standard.

  • Updated December 2016
    To be reviewed December 2019

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