Dear gentle readers and followers, lets start to be more aware about some salient facts and available resources on epilepsy. Although epilepsy is not classified as a mental illness, the side effects of both the neurological disorder and the prescribed medications, can most likely lead to mental challenges and other mental health problems. Gabriel Bebonbechem was diagnosed with epilepsy at the tender age of 11, and I didn’t even know what it was then. I am only beginning to be more aware of this brain disorder now, and sincerely wish that others do not have to lose a dear one like my family and I.
What is epilepsy exactly?
Epilepsy is a disorder; not a disease. A seizure can be described as an electrical storm in the brain. Normal brain function limits the spread of electrical activity but a seizure happens when this breaks down and allows this electrical storm to spread in the brain. A person is thought to have epilepsy when they have had at least two seizures.
Almost 3 million people living in the United States and 50 million worldwide live with epilepsy.
Source: Epilepsy Foundation
500 new cases of epilepsy are diagnosed in the United States every day. Source: CURE: Citizens
United for Research in Epilepsy
Epilepsy is the 3rd most common neurological disorder behind Alzheimer’s Disease and Stroke.
Source: Epilepsy Foundation
Epilepsy affects more people than multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and Parkinson’s disease combined. (Yes, COMBINED!) Source: CURE: Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy
It is a MYTH that a person can swallow their tongue during a seizure. Nothing should be placed in a person’s mouth during a seizure. The best way to help a person having a seizure (if they are lying down) is to help keep them safe. If possible, roll them over to their side and place something soft under their head. Source: Epilepsy Foundation
Epilepsy results in an estimated annual cost of $15.5 billion in medical costs and lost or reduced earnings and production. Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Epilepsy can develop at any age and can be a result of genetics, stroke, head injury and many other factors. Source: Epilepsy Foundation
One study suggests 68% of people with poorly controlled epilepsy do not have personal friends. Personal friendships help develop good self‐esteem which reduces depression. Source: Epilepsy Foundation
Mood disorders are related to epilepsy and can be a side effect of either the seizures or the anti‐seizure medication. Source: The Epilepsy Therapy Project
In over 30% percent of patients, seizures can’t be controlled with treatment which can lead to brain damage and death. Source: Cure: Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy
In almost 75% of cases of epilepsy, no cause can be found. So many conditions can cause epilepsy or are related to epilepsy that it’s difficult to track down the exact cause. It can be caused by an abnormality in brain wiring, imbalance of brain chemistry, injury, poisoning, brain tumor, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cerebral palsy, or any combination of these (just to name a few).
Source: Epilepsy Foundation
Keeping a seizure diary can help someone with epilepsy and their neurologist figure out possible seizure triggers and what medications are or aren’t working. Download a seizure diary at www.epilepsy.com
The Epilepsy Foundation (www.epilepsyfoundation.org). The Epilepsy Foundation is a great place to start in the search for information about epilepsy. Their website includes information about epilepsy, seizures, research and much more. The Epilepsy Foundation website has support communities for both those living with epilepsy and those caring for someone with epilepsy as well as information for educators and advocates.
Epilepsy Therapy Project (www.epilepsy.com). Another excellent resource! Their mission is “to inform and empower patients and families facing newly diagnosed epilepsy or those struggling with epilepsy that has resisted treatment.” They have information on innovative treatments and research as well as an online support group.
Talk About It Organization (www.talkaboutit.org). Greg Grunberg (he starred in the TV show Heroes) started the Talk About It Organization because his son has epilepsy. In an introduction on the website, Greg proudly calls his son his hero. This terrific website has many people you will likely recognize talking about epilepsy and different aspects of it, including first aid for seizures, employment, how to discuss epilepsy in your family as well as important information about epilepsy medication.
CURE: Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (www.cureepilepsy.org ). Susan Axelrod (whose husband, David Axelrod, was a senior advisor to President Obama) started the CURE Epilepsy organization because their daughter has epilepsy. This organization does a fantastic job spreading awareness and education and raising money for epilepsy research.
National Association of Epilepsy Centers (http://www.naec‐epilepsy.org). If researching treatment centers or epilepsy specialists, the National Association of Epilepsy Centers can help with the search.
PAWS With a Cause https://www.pawswithacause.org). I can’t leave out my “pet” organization! PAWS With a Cause provides Service Dogs trained to deal with seizures as well as other medical conditions.
Purple Day Organization (http://www.purpleday.org). Who doesn’t love purple? According to their website, “Cassidy Megan created the idea of Purple Day in 2008, motivated by her own struggles with epilepsy. Cassidy’s goal is to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone. The Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia came on board in 2008 to help develop Cassidy’s idea which is now known as the Purple Day for epilepsy campaign.”
Many of these organizations also have their own Facebook pages providing additional information and most can also be found on Twitter. Both provide wonderful opportunities to connect with others in a similar situation. These real connections will help combat that pesky troublemaker, isolation.
Prepared by Trish Hughes Kreis, founder of Robert’s Sister (www.robertssister.com). Trish is a freelance writer and full‐time Legal Administrator who advocates on behalf of her disabled youngest brother, Robert, in order to keep him as healthy and happy as possible. When not navigating the maze of social services and government programs available to help him, she keeps him entertained by being on the losing end of many card games. She is the author of her first caregiving book, Forever a Caregiver, and she can be reached through her blog www.robertssister.com, her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/robertssister) or Twitter (@robertssister1).