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of everyone affected by epilepsy

Therapies to help your mental and emotional health

If you are experiencing anxiety, depression or stress, your family doctor may suggest that you try a psychological therapy. These are sometimes called talking therapies. They offer an opportunity to explore problems that are affecting your mental or emotional health with a trained professional. They also help you to find ways of dealing with the problems.

Not all psychological therapies are suitable for everyone, so talk to your family doctor about which one might work best for you. Here are some examples of psychological therapies, but many others are also available.


Counselling allows you to talk about your problems and feelings in a confidential environment. A trained counsellor listens to you and can help you deal with your negative thoughts and feelings.

Counselling can take place face-to-face, individually or in a group, over the phone or by email.

Your family doctor may offer you some counselling through the NHS. Alternatively, you can pay privately to see a counsellor. The Counselling Directory has details of counsellors in the UK.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT can help you to manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave. It helps you to understand the links between your thoughts, feelings and behaviour. This can help you to manage your problems in a more positive way.

CBT is usually provided by a trained therapist but psychiatric nurses and social workers may also be able to do this. CBT is also available through online courses.  Your family doctor may be able to arrange for you to do a CBT course through the NHS, or you can pay privately to do one.

Mindfulness-based therapies

Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment. It involves being aware of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations, and calmly accepting them. Mindfulness-based therapies include Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). They can include techniques such as meditation, breathing and yoga.

Research suggests mindfulness-based therapy may be helpful for people with depression. However, there have been some reports of people having negative effects from practising mindfulness. A good mindfulness teacher should be able to advise you on any potential risks, and help you decide if it’s right for you.

Mindfulness-based therapy can take place in classes with other people. There are also online courses available. Your family doctor may be able to arrange for you to do a mindfulness course through the NHS, or you can pay privately to do one. The UK Network for Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations publishes a list of trained mindfulness-based teachers.

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 theUniversity 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

Comments: read the 4 comments or add yours


For 17years I used depo for contraception. Since coming off it I haven't had any seizures. My so-called "partial seizures" have actually have resembled as panic attacks which I can control. I want to know whether stopping my body's natural monthly functions has affected my mental health which has affected my epilepsy.

Submitted by Claire Jones on

Hi Clare
I have just spoken to you on our freephone helpline about your situation.  I hope this discussion covered the queries you raised in this post. If there is anything further we can help you with, please feel free to come back to us.

As we discussed, many people find that taking care of their wellbeing can help them to have as few seizures as possible. This simply means taking some steps to looking after your body and mind. This usually involves having a healthy diet, getting quality sleep, being active, and including mindfulness techniques to manage stress. There is more details about this in the wellbeing section of our website: epilepsy.org.uk/info/wellbeing

Diane Wallace
Epilepsy Action Advice and Information Team

Submitted by Diane, Epilepsy... on

I have practiced meditation for a number of years and, in the last 7 months joined a buddhist group practicing watching the breath. This is not about forcing the breath; it is more about mindfulness. Meditation has been one of my greatest friends over the years but conflicting information seems to indicate that it can be negative for some people with epilepsy. My first seizure was on 1.8.17 after brain surgery on 1.12.16. I practiced meditation throughout this entire period. Surely, if there was a chance of meditation increasing chances of seizure I would have been aware of this before? Can anyone advise if I am OK to carry on with meditation?

Submitted by Helen Kenny on

Hi Helen

There is some evidence to suggest that strong pranayama (breathing control) and trataka (gazing at a meditation object) should be avoided by people with epilepsy, as these could trigger a seizure.  

But as you have already been doing the meditation class for a number of months before your seizure, then it is entirely possible the seizure was unrelated to the meditation, especially if it didn’t happen exactly when you were doing the breathing.

And if your meditation is helping with your general wellbeing and minimising stress levels, then it’s likely to be good for your epilepsy as well as other areas of your life. 

Clearly if the seizures continued and looked like they were in direct relation to your meditation then you may want to reconsider.

Submitted by rich on