What is Anxiety?

Did you know 99% of young people said living with epilepsy has had an impact on their mental health?

You are never alone

Other young people with epilepsy describe the impact on their mental wellbeing as:

“[I’m] constantly anxious about when and how bad my next seizure will be.”

“Epilepsy has completely changed who I am as a person, affected my confidence and I have developed a life-long battle with anxiety.”

“The constant thought of breaking into a seizure in public and at work causes me nothing but constant anxiety.”

“I was scared to go out by myself for a good year and a half… my epilepsy has caused so much anxiety.”

Young people with epilepsy said their mental wellbeing has affected different areas of their life, including:

  • Time with their friends (77%)
  • Physical health (66%)
  • Employment (63%)
  • Learning (57%)
  • Time with family (50%)

What can I do if I feel anxious?

Try Grounding techniques. For example; Focus on your senses: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.

The 10 second rule: Focus on getting through the next 10 seconds, and breaking each hour into manageable chunks of time. If you feel that worry start to rise, wait 10 seconds before you respond. That's it. Just stop.

Practice square breathing: Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4 and repeat.

Have you heard of CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy)? If you are struggling with severe anxiety, visit your GP and they may refer you for Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. 

Practice mindfulness, when you’re brushing your teeth, eating a meal, walking outside. Actively using the senses to make yourself fully present with whatever you are doing.

Listen to a relatable podcast, such as 'The Anxiety Podcast'. There are lots of others available on iTunes and Spotify for free. 

Try Art Therapy such as adult mindful colouring.

Guided Meditations to support with breath work are available for free on Youtube

Our Young Reps share their advice...

'I was diagnosed with absence epilepsy at eleven years old. Since then I have been on a journey with my anxiety.'

Read about Jasmine's experience with anxiety...

So, what is anxiety?

For lots of people it’s extreme worry, nervousness or a fear of losing control. For others it can cause unease and panic.

Anxiety is common emotion that many people experience, from mild to more severe forms. And it’s ok to feel anxious, especially during times of stress. Anxiety can motivate us: it’s not always a negative emotion. But it affects everyone differently, and sometimes anxiety can become more intense or all consuming, which can really impact on your mental health and wellbeing. What’s important is how you manage your anxiety, and that you find the best coping mechanisms to suit you.

How does it affect people with epilepsy?

Seizures and anxiety often go hand in hand. The fear of having a seizure, not knowing where or when it could happen can make you feel anxious. An epilepsy diagnosis can also cause anxiety, so can feeling excluded from doing the things you enjoy because of your epilepsy. Anxiety can also be a side effect of some ASMs. It’s a natural human emotion so be kind to yourself if you’re anxious and remember you’re not alone. Since Covid-19, 1 in 6 people have experienced some form of anxiety, without living with epilepsy too.

Anxiety can cause panic attacks and the symptoms are very similar to some seizures, lasting between 5-20 minutes. Knowing the symptoms of anxiety could reduce their impact and your stress levels. These include:

  • Intense feelings of nervousness
  • Sweating
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Hyperventilation
  • Flushing of the skin
  • Feeling sick
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach pains
  • Muscle pains and tension
  • Dry mouth
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Tiredness

Where can I access support?

If you feel you are experiencing severe anxiety, please contact your GP. 

Find urgent help and support here.

If you are struggling with anxiety, remember, you are not alone. 

Try downloading one of these apps that young people recommend:

  • Calm - The number one app for meditation and sleep  
  • Headspace - A meditation and mindfulness app for reducing stress & better sleep
  • WorryTree - Helps you record, manage and problem solve your worries and anxiety based on CBT techniques. Built by worriers, for worriers.

If you feel like you would like to talk to someone, you can contact us or reach out to one of the organisations below. There are people ready and waiting to support you:

 

Throughout our #OnTopOfEpilepsy campaign, our supporters shared messages of support to children and young people with epilepsy who may be struggling.

'Sending you lots of positive thoughts, from a family who knows what it’s like to struggle. You got this!'
'Sometimes life is difficult but keep on smiling, learn to love yourself because you are special. Explain to your friends how you are feeling and why. I think you will be surprised how understanding and supportive people can be . xx'
'You are MORE than just a purple Warrior, YOU are the very best of the BEST!!!!💜. NEVER let anyone or anything, especially epilepsy, dull your beautiful shine!!'