Self-esteem and epilepsy

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself. It’s common for health conditions like epilepsy to affect self-esteem.

This can have an impact on your overall wellbeing.


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How does self-esteem affect us?

Your self-esteem is based on your beliefs and opinions about yourself. If you have good self-esteem, you tend to feel positively about yourself. You generally like and value yourself more. This can help you make decisions and try new or difficult things. You may be able to deal with problems or mistakes better, without putting too much blame on yourself.

If you have low self-esteem, you tend to feel negatively about yourself. You might feel hopeless or worthless, and blame yourself for things unfairly. Having low self-esteem can make it harder to deal with life’s challenges.

Self-esteem and mental health are closely linked. Having low self-esteem can make you more likely to develop problems with mental health like depression and anxiety.

Epilepsy and self-esteem

Living with epilepsy can have a negative effect on your self-esteem.

This can be due to many reasons, such as:

  • Not being as independent as you would like, and needing to rely on others
  • Not feeling good about yourself and embarrassed or ashamed about seizures or side effects of medicines
  • Feeling less able to do your job, be a parent, or be a carer
  • Feeling like you can’t take part in social events, or do activities that you enjoy
  • Being told by others that you can’t do things because of your epilepsy
  • Experiencing negative reactions (stigma) from others

Having low self-esteem can affect your overall wellbeing and make it harder to deal with your epilepsy.

Overcoming some of the difficulties listed above may improve your self-esteem and make you feel better about yourself. Some people with epilepsy tell us that, over time, they have found ways to live well and their self-esteem has improved.

Image of Tahlya on a beach smiling, supporting her story that someone with epilepsy can improve their self-esteem

Tahlya's story

“Following years of low confidence and bad mental health, I have now learnt to love myself. I have created a platform on social media where I encourage others to love themselves and to show that having a disability doesn’t stop you from doing anything. Once I had accepted and got used to my condition I found peace with that and focused on my self-love journey. I have all these dreams I want to achieve and having epilepsy is NOT a barrier to achieving them.”

“Having epilepsy or any condition doesn’t define you, you are who you are for a reason and you’re perfect just as you are. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve anything. It’s never anything to be ashamed of.”

Read Tahlya's story here

How to improve self-esteem

Improving your self-esteem may help you to cope better with the challenges of living with epilepsy. This might mean you’re less likely to experience problems with mental health as a result.

There are many things you can do to try and improve your self-esteem and feel better about yourself. Different things work for different people, and it can take time to make a change. Just try what you’re comfortable with, and see what works for you.

Replace negative thoughts with positive ones

Challenge any negative thoughts or beliefs that you have about yourself. If you think you’re not good enough to do something, ask yourself why. Then think of some positive things about yourself to challenge this view. You can write them down, or even say them in front of a mirror. It can help to think of what you would say to a friend in a similar situation.

Try not to compare yourself to others

There are unique challenges from living with epilepsy. Try not to compare your own achievements and abilities to those of others. It might help to limit how much time you spend on social media if this is negatively affecting your mood or self-esteem.

Do things that you enjoy and are good at

Focus on your own skills and strengths, rather than comparing yourself to other people. Think about what you enjoy doing, and what you are good at. Doing these things are likely to make you feel better about yourself and boost your mood. It could be anything, like cooking a meal, doing something creative or caring for others.

Build a positive support network

Think about the people around you and whether they make you feel better or worse about yourself. You may be able to choose to spend more time with people who appreciate you and make you feel good about yourself.

Epilepsy Action has more information on volunteering and epilepsy support groups.

Practice being more assertive

Being assertive is about being able to express your own opinions and needs, while respecting those of other people. Think about how you could change what you say or do in different scenarios to be more assertive. It also means being able to say no when you want to and setting boundaries.

Challenge yourself

Set yourself a goal to try something new or to challenge yourself. It might be going to a social event or trying a new activity. Being able to achieve your goal can have a huge impact on your self-esteem and confidence. Breaking this goal down into smaller tasks can make it easier to manage.

Talk about it

Talking therapies like counselling can help if you have low self-esteem. We have more information on getting mental health support.

Epilepsy Action offers a befriending service for those affected by epilepsy.

Here to support you

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Call the Epilepsy Action helpline

If you would like to talk to someone about epilepsy, our trained advisers are here to help.

0808 800 5050
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Send us your question

Send a question to our trained epilepsy advisers. (We aim to reply within two working days).

Contact us today
This information has been produced under the terms of the PIF TICK. The PIF TICK is the UK-wide Quality Mark for Health Information. Please contact if you would like a reference list for this information.
Published: February 2024
Last modified: April 2024
To be reviewed: February 2027
Tracking: L028.06 (previously B154)
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