Epilepsy is something that is much talked about, but rarely acknowledged when it occurs to oneself or their loved ones. It is a chronic neurological disorder where a person experiences recurrent and erratic seizures that can vary from person to person. On this National Epilepsy Day (that’s on 17th November every year in India), we attempt to bust ten myths surrounding the mental condition. The takeaway? Educate yourselves, don’t discriminate and give the affected people all the love and support in the world.
Myth 1 – Epilepsy Is A Mental Illness
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder, not a mental disease. However, some people do suffer from other subsequent conditions such as depression, anxiety, autism, and Alzheimer’s syndrome.
Myth 2 – Epilepsy Is Genetic
Though genetics does play a role in epilepsy, one can develop it at any time of their life. It can develop in children as young as five or elderly people over sixty-five years. Though the cause is often not known, epilepsy can be caused by a brain tumour, traumatic brain injury, heart disease, strokes or lesions.
Myth 3 – Seizures Are Dangerous To People Around
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Epilepsy causes seizures, which can take on a characteristic form in each episode. Though the person’s behaviour could be inappropriate according to place and time, it’s usually harmless to people around.
Myth 4 – People With Epilepsy Shouldn’t Have Demanding Jobs
Epilepsy does not render someone ‘disabled’, for people are completely capable of leading a normal life. Though some suffer severe seizures and are unable to work, others are successful in their fields such as art, business, government, and science.
Myth 5 – People With Epileptic Seizures Are ‘Abnormal’
People who suffer from epileptic seizures tend to get agitated when restrained, may not respond to questions, utterly incomprehensible speech, repeat phrases, destroy things in their surroundings or scream. However, they are back to their normal behaviour after they have recovered from a seizure.
Myth 6 – Epilepsy Is A ‘Curse’ From God
Epilepsy has no relation to anything religious or the supernatural but is a medical condition that requires treatment and support from loved ones. Instead, such naysayers should educate themselves on how to handle a seizure in their presence.
Myth 7 – Epilepsy Is Contagious
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Epilepsy does not spread through touching, coughing or even sharing personal belongings. Instead, try to help the person instead of engaging in irrational beliefs.
Myth 8 – Epilepsy Does Not Need Medicine
A person with epilepsy needs medical treatment through prescribed medication that should not be missed under any condition. Thanks to the improved medical care and the discovery of new medicines, a person’s quality of life can be drastically improved.
Myth 9 – You Should Force Something Into The Person’s Mouth During A Seizure
This myth originates from the superstition that a person can bite off their tongue or suffocate during a seizure – both of which are impossible. However, forcing something in someone’s mouth could damage their teeth and gums or risk breaking their jaw. Instead, help lie down sideways in a comfortable position and remove potential risk- objects around them.
Myth 10 – Epilepsy Can Be Passed Onto Children
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Generally, epilepsy neither affects a woman’s ability to get pregnant nor the child’s development in the womb. However, anti-epileptic drugs can increase the risk of birth defects from 2 to 10 percent – which is why affected women must consult a neurologist and an obstetrician. Moreover, children of affected parents may inherit some forms of epilepsy, but the risk is extremely low.
Education is the best way to fight discrimination against epilepsy. Though there’s still a long way to go, organizations are trying their best to spread awareness regarding epilepsy and the people affected by it. Let’s take a step forward to know more about the medical condition, and treat everyone like human beings sharing the same society.
DISCLAIMER: While we have taken steps to check the accuracy of information & practices shared here; it is not a replacement for a doctor’s opinion. it is important to first always check with your own doctor before trying any medication, practice or suggestion from this site.