What is Depression?

“[Living with epilepsy] has affected all areas of wellbeing, but the mental impact has been the hardest to deal with.”

You are never alone

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

Severe anxiety and depression, feel like I have no independence.”

“Epilepsy has taken a lot of things from me. It has impacted my life greatly and my mental health has suffered as a result. I now have a diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety and depression.”

“It’s hard to talk about, but even if you’re crying, go to someone you trust and let it all out, don’t ever be afraid of what you are going to say. Because once you have spoken, even if it’s just one word, that’s where it all gets better.” 

“If you’re struggling, just know you’re not alone and you deserve help and to be happy.”

Did you know:

  • 99% of young people said living with epilepsy has had an impact on their mental health. This impact was described as anxiety/worry, depression, life-changing, impact on self-worth/identity, isolation, overwhelming, lack of control, fear, stress and feelings of suicide.

What can I do if I feel depressed?

Talk to friends, family, those you trust. Keep connected to those you care about and who care about you. And talk to us and others with epilepsy via The Channel and The Hub

Try your best to eat a balanced diet and avoid drinking alcohol (it’s a depressant after all)

Try to have a good sleep routine – 8 hours or more if you can. If you struggle with sleep, find out here what you can do to help make sure you catch those zzzz's

Find exercise that you enjoy and that doesn’t feel like a challenge or chore. Then try to do as much as you can. Endorphins are chemicals that are natural anti-depressants, and your body releases these when you exercise.

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

You may find journaling cathartic, it helps you get things off your chest and put your feelings into writing. You can write down what is worrying about your seizures, or get off your chest an experience you’ve maybe had because of your seizures.

The brain doesn’t know the difference between real/fake smiling or laughter. So smile at yourself in the mirror, watch a comedy, or try some online laughter exercises on YouTube.

Recommended by one of our young reps, Kooth offers online mental health services that work alongside you to provide compassionate and effective support.

Our Young Reps share their advice...

“Just man up and deal with it”, that's what they all say. 

Read about Renell's experience with depression...

So, what is depression?

Everyone feels sad from time to time, but a constant low mood shouldn’t be ignored. It’s more than likely depression. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of - ever. Commonly known as the ‘Black Dog’, depression is an unwanted companion. One that barks, bites or silently follows in your shadow – but rarely strays from your side without medical help. Depression changes how you feel about life and makes even simple everyday tasks feel like a challenge. It can interfere with school, work and your personal life.

How does it affect people with epilepsy?

There’s a big link between epilepsy and depression. Although they’re completely different conditions, the two can attract each other. People with epilepsy are more likely to develop depression than others. Our bodies and minds are connected and epilepsy can affect your emotional health. Just as depression can trigger a seizure. It can also be a side effect to some meds, so it’s important you talk to your epilepsy doctor as soon as you notice any change in your mood.

On average in the UK, 1 in 6 people have depression. If you have epilepsy this is 1 in 3. It affects everyone differently but you may notice you feel:

  • Hopeless or helpless
  • Guilty
  • Anxious or worried
  • Irritable
  • Sad or low
  • Tired and fatigued all the time
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Unmotivated
  • Uninterested in the things you enjoy (from food and sports to sex)
  • You eat more or less than usual

If you have any dark thoughts such as harming yourself or ending your life – talk to family, friends, strangers or doctors immediately – help is always available.

“[Living with epilepsy] has affected all areas of wellbeing, but the mental impact has been the hardest to deal with.”

This was just one opinion shared with us when we surveyed young people with epilepsy, like you, (aged 25 and under) and asked how living with epilepsy has affected their mental wellbeing.

Where can I access support?

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

 

Find urgent help and support here.

If you are struggling with feelings of depression, remember, you are not alone. 

Try downloading one of these apps that young people recommend:

  • Happify - Science-based activities and games to help reduce stress, overcome negative thoughts, and build greater resilience.
  • Blue Ice - Helping young people manage and understand their emotions and reduce urges of self-harm.
  • Catch it - This app uses CBT to teach you how to look at problems in a different way, turn negative thoughts into positive ones and improve your mental wellbeing.

 

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.

'A massive shout out to you all and I just want to say how amazing and brilliant you all are each and every single day, especially coping with your epilepsy and the challenges it brings for you. Don't let this illness rule your lives, you rule it. Xxx'
'You are amazing, you are unseen superheroes. Nearly everyone has no idea what you so bravely take in your stride as normal and just get on with it.'
'I've had epilepsy since birth now 46 but I've got an amazing husband and 2 children, visited some amazing countries so don't let it stop your dreams! BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!'
The theme of Depression has been supported by an educational grant by GW Pharmaceuticals