Emotional Effects of Diagnosis - Frequently Asked Questions

What are the emotional effects of epilepsy on me as a parent?

23 January 2010
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A single seizure, especially the child's first seizure, usually has its greatest effects on you - not the child. Parents often go through a variety of stages after finding out their child has epilepsy. The first emotion most people experience is fear. Parents fear the unknown most of all, and there is no way of knowing when or if another seizure will occur. Grief is the next emotion that parents often feel. They grieve for the child they think is no longer the same as before, for the effects they think epilepsy will have, and for how epilepsy will interfere with all of their lives. Parents need to put their grief into perspective.

Finding support groups and other resources can help them accept their child's condition. Eventually, grieving must come to an end and you must find a more productive way to deal with epilepsy. Following grief, parents are often angry. They wonder, "Why did my child get epilepsy"? They may feel anger towards the medical staff for not doing/knowing more. Anger is not a productive emotion and instead you should try to discuss your feelings. It is, however, important to realise that these feelings are normal and that they will usually pass with time.

It is crucial to remember that your child is still the same child after a diagnosis of epilepsy. You should treat your child the same and try not to provide too much extra attention. Extra attention can harm one's personality development and can also affect the functioning of the entire family unit, including sibling relationships.
Many people believe that the single biggest issue for parents raising children with epilepsy is overprotection. The effects of overprotection on children can be serious and long lasting. They may include dependency, hypochondria, low self-esteem, underachievement and immaturity. Parents should not let their anxiety about epilepsy control their life or that of their child. Parents should be more cautious but should not let the fear of seizures run their lives.


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