Epilepsy and Depression: Two Taboo Subjects In One Go

So I’m going to hit you with two taboo subjects in one go: Epilepsy and Depression. Not really the most fun of my blog subjects, but hey it has to be done. I am well versed in both subjects, so I think I will be able to give a personal as well as a researched angle to the table. Please see the links below for more information.


Okay, before I get going, let me just clarify a few things. First of all, I am not a doctor! I am just a young person doing research and speaking from my own experiences! I am only using two sources for this because this is a blog post, not a research paper! If you are having any difficulties with seizure control or depression, I urge you to see your neurologist.

Personal Tidbit

Last year, my seizures were extremely out of control. I could barely leave my apartment. When I did, I would have crying spells, and would have to leave class early. I denied that there was an issue though. I was going through a rough patch and that was it. People cried from time to time. I acknowledged that the individual episodes were a big deal, but I couldn’t see that overall the seizures were surmounting to a huge problem. I stopped going to the gym because I was exhausted. Essentially, a buried my head in the sand and tried to get all of my school work done, even though it was a struggle to get out of bed, and on some days I couldn’t even get to class. Thankfully I’m in the type of program where teachers tend to be more compassionate, and I had an advocate to speak on my behalf. I was furious when my mom brought up the idea that I might be depressed. There is no way that I could be depressed. Depression is something that happened to ‘other people’. Man, looking back on myself, that is the oldest trick in the book. Depression can happen to everyone. Furthermore, Depression can happen to people with Epilepsy; we are not immune to it!

Depression and Epilepsy-What is the Prevalence?

According to Kanner (2006), “Mood Disorders (MD) are the most frequent psychiatric comorbidity in patients with epilepsy (PWE) with a prevalence of 20-50%; the higher prevalence rates have been typically identified in patients with poorly controlled epilepsy”.

According to Asztely, Epilepsy continues to be underdiagnosed and undertreated. Like Kanner, Asztely also agrees that depression is also related to poor seizure control.

Depression During a Seizure

Depression can occur before a seizure. So, not immediately before, but maybe the night before or something like that. I’ve had that happen before. I was in my first year of university, and for some reason most of my close friends had gone home for the weekend. I was alone in my room, and when I slipped into bed that night I had this overwhelming feeling of sadness, like “I’m all alone”. It sounds lame, but when I woke up it was painful to walk. I ended up going to the doctor, and as  it turned out I sprained all my ribs on one side from a seizure in my sleep. Who knew that could happen?

Depression After a Seizure

If I have a cluster of seizures, it is extremely probable that I will feel very depressed afterwards. I will feel tired, sad, and even angry. If I fall, bang my head, or have to go to the hospital, I can’t help but feel sad. It’s natural. I will generally need a few recovery days if the seizure was intense, as my muscles can clench, and now that the seizure is over, it’s hard to walk around, because my muscles are so sore. Fear of having more seizures can make it difficult to go out, which can also add to the low mood. If  my seizures are not well controlled, I will be dealing with a dull sense of depression as well as the seizures, because my life has to be monitored extremely closely.

Failure to Treat Depression in People with Epilepsy

According to Asztely (2008), people with Epilepsy are not treated for their depression due to the belief that it could reduce their seizure threshold. Like I said, I’m not a doctor! So if you’re looking for more information, please check out the following links. If you think you might be suffering depression, please notify your doctor. Love you all! xox

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8 thoughts on “Epilepsy and Depression: Two Taboo Subjects In One Go

  1. I can get depressed in the days before or after a migraine, very similar to epilepsy. Very intriguing read!

    1. It’s interesting, I’ve heard a lot of similarities in symptoms of auras of seizures (warnings before seizures) and now what you just mentioned. I used to get seizures as a kid, but they have died off. Maybe I should do a post on migraines and seizures! I think there is a relationship between the two!

  2. I’ve been treated for clinical depression for years, even before I was diagnosed with epilepsy, but there is a definite connection between seizure activity and the severity of my depression. I hope that doctors become better at concurrent treatment of the two diseases, because, at least in my case, they are so entwined. And, in my experience, there’s an even greater stigma about mental illness than there is about epilepsy. It’s all about awareness, I guess!

    1. You’re definitely right about that Canadese, it’s all about awareness! I’ve done some work with people who have serious mental health concerns, and comparing their experiences to mine, I would agree in that there is more of a stigma to having a mental health issue than to having epilepsy. As you have probably experienced, there is that attitude towards depression of “just get over it”, while with epilepsy no one says that! On the flip side though people can be very scared of epilepsy. I’m rambling now! Thanks for sharing your story!:)

  3. Thanks for a great and educative post my dear. Love all your posts whether they are personal or more educational.

  4. Dear Sita,

    Thank you again for such an honest post with such clear focus and purpose. I am so grateful to hear of your experience. It helps me a lot.

    For me, depression and epilepsy are also deeply connected. In my case, I have experienced serious depression from the time I was a child. At 41 now, my epilepsy started about 5 years ago.

    Your story is reminding and encouraging me to remember to work on them together.

    Thank you,

    1. Dear Raji,

      I am so glad that my experiences benefit you in some way! I blog in part to create acceptance of epilepsy (for myself), as well as to create awareness of it. If more people know the simplest things about it, such as what to do in the event of a seizure, it makes living with epilepsy in this world a much easier thing.

      I have read that epilepsy and depression are deeply intertwined, so I find it interesting that you developed epilepsy after so many years of depression. For me, I had a bout of depression after so many years of epilepsy. I too, am working on them together, so don’t feel like you’re alone!


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