How Depression and Epilepsy are Related - Epilepsy Foundation Texas

Depression is only second to epilepsy in difficulty explaining it to others. This is because depression is as complicated as epilepsy on a more emotional level, and also if you haven’t gone through depression, it is very hard to relate to my experience.

It may be easy to have an intellectual understanding of epilepsy and depression, but when people try to actually relate to it in an “I’ve been there” kind of way, it is often clear they are missing something. This is absolutely not their fault. I do not expect them to understand entirely unless they are going through it too, and I don’t want anyone else to experience it.

My Battle with Depression

I tried summing up depression in a journal about a year ago, and did so in the following way: “Depression …is really an umbrella term under which many feelings and actions lie. Sadness, hopelessness, doubt, fear, confusion, fear, overthinking, uncertainty, hatred, aggravation, frustration, and denial”. Despite being in a completely different place in my life at the time I wrote that, I still agree with it.

All of those are things I feel at my lowest points, but not all at the same time necessarily. I notice them all during a depressive episode. That is why it is so frustrating to hear some equate depression to sadness. Not only is it infinitely more complex than that, but it can last for months or even years. That is not generally true of sadness.

Links to Epilepsy

In my case, epilepsy and depression feed off each other. Having a seizure (or even an aura) can initiate many of the feelings I associate with depression. Sadness, fear, aggravation, frustration, even denial, all of these feelings are some of the unhealthy (and I emphasize that word strongly) ways I’ve dealt with the reality of living with epilepsy. But the unhealthy nature isn’t in the feelings themselves, it’s in the cycle they create.

These feelings and their associated negativity lead to stress, which is one of my primary triggers for having a seizure. So what happens if I do not properly handle them is I have a seizure, have those same feelings and get stressed again, have another seizure, and the cycle keeps on repeating until the hole feels far too deep for me to climb out of it.

My Brain is Lying to Me

Something I have to tell myself in the darkest times, the times where I feel there is no hope, is that my brain is lying to me. When I have thoughts that nothing will ever change or get better, my brain is lying to me. When I have thoughts that I will never work again or that nobody understands me, my brain is lying to me.

It’s a bit of a weird idea, trying to separate your thoughts from the source of those thoughts, but in the past when I feel myself slipping I have found it to be quite useful.