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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.
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.
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
Ways to look after your wellbeing, including information about memory, depression, sleep and stress.
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.
5 ways to wellbeing for everybody
In 2008, the UK government’s Foresight Project did some research about wellbeing.
The New Economics Foundation (NEF) found a way to explain the results of the research. They produced a set of five actions which can improve wellbeing.
With the people around you.
With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.
At home, work, school or in your local community.
Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing them.
Building these connections will support and enrich you every day
Go for a walk or run.
Play a game.
Exercising makes you feel good.
Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
Catch sight of the beautiful.
Remark on the unusual.
Notice the changing seasons.
Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends.
Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling.
Try something new.
Rediscover an old interest.
Sign up for that course.
Take on a different responsibility at work.
Fix a bike.
Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food.
Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving.
Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger.
Volunteer your time.
Join a community group.
Look out, as well as in.
Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you
If you would like to find out more about looking after your wellbeing, here are some useful organisations.
Anxiety UK works to relieve and support those living with anxiety disorders by providing information, support and understanding through an extensive range of services, including therapy.
Tel: 08444 775 774
The BAMBA website has an online search tool to find a mindfulness teacher near you.
An NHS campaign which gives advice and support to help you eat well, move more and live longer.
The Counselling Directory website allows you to search for counsellors in your area. Also provides information about different types of counselling.
Depression UK is a national self-help organisation that helps people cope with their depression.
Living Made Easy helps disabled people find equipment that enables them to lead independent lives.
Tel: 0300 999 0004
The Drinkaware website provides information about how alcohol can affect your health, and how to get support if you think you may be drinking too much. Includes a tool to help you work out how many units you drink.
Mental Health Foundation helps people to survive, recover from and prevent mental health problems, including anxiety, depression and stress. The site also has information about mindfulness and an online mindfulness course.
Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, including anxiety, depression and stress.
Tel: 0300 123 3393
The NHS website provides advice and information about healthy living for everyone.
Rethink provide practical information and advice for people affected by a mental illness on issues such as different types of therapy, medicines and benefits.
Tel: 0300 500 0927
This website has an advice section where you will find evidence-based information on various mental health problems, treatments and other topics.
If something’s troubling you, the Samaritans will talk things through with you. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Tel: 116 123
The Stress Management Society is dedicated to helping people recognise and reduce stress.
Tel: 0203 142 8650
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