I admit, I push it to the back of my mind, even though the facts and the risks are clear. I typically think…there’s enough to deal with when it comes to the seizures themselves, the side effects of the drugs and the other complications that go along with Epilepsy…memory loss, cognitive challenges, language issues. But, it’s out there, so I told myself that it’s time to really delve into the issue.
According to the Epilepsy Foundation of America (if you know me, you know I’m a stickler for attribution-so many sites these days don’t do this), 30% of all people who live with Epilepsy also live with a major depressive disorder. The research also shows that people with Epilepsy who are depressed often are not diagnosed. About 50 percent of the time, they are never treated for the problem.
For many with Epilepsy and seizures, it’s top of mind, but it can be an embarrassing and many times debilitating illness. Let’s face it, we have enough to deal with, but you throw depression into the mix, and the possibility of taking anti-depression meds, and we might as well wear a sign that says, ‘Handle with Care‘.
I must tell you, I have never been diagnosed with depression, but it’s crossed my mind literally thousands of times. I wonder how many of us who wrestle with seizures really understand what depression is? Is there a certain kind of depression that we fall prey to? If we didn’t have the Epilepsy, would we have the depression? After all, I realize that my life isn’t like it was, pre-diagnosis or that it is in no way the life I had planned for. There are days when I cry, yell (actually scream) and question my husband as to why in the world he stayed with someone who has had 5 brain surgeries, her head shaved twice, can’t drive, many times can’t be left alone with our child, let alone our two dogs due to a ‘bad day’ of seizures. I think about it often. Could I have depression because I have Epilepsy?
I never suggest this to my epileptologist, and we are close. We email or text one or more times each week, typically I update him if I’ve had a bad bout with seizures or other issues (don’t ask me how many times I’ve misplaced or lost my magnets for my VNS!). But I’ve never once questioned him as to whether or not I should see someone about possible depression. But now I think I will. It’s not something I should fear, but I should realize that there is a great potential for this condition.
In the meantime, there is a lot of information out there on the web that relates to Epilepsy and Depression. Here’s a small selection: