How does epilepsy affect family life?

Epilepsy can put a strain on families in many ways. Everyone is in it together. Yet they experience it differently. The person who has the seizures will feel one way, but a parent or spouse may feel quite different. Maybe a family member feels helpless as they watch the seizures because they can’t make them stop. Maybe they are angry that this is happening to their loved one and that their lives have changed. They may be scared and try to protect their family member who has the seizures. But the person with the seizures may feel quite different. They may feel overprotected and want some space and independence. They may be afraid that they are a burden to their family and pull away.

  • The first step is to realize that people will react differently. When reactions aren’t addressed or talked about, relationships between family members can get strained.
  • Each member of the family needs to understand what epilepsy is, how it's treated, and what to expect. (The level of understanding will depend on each person's age and abilities, of course.)
  • Families can be a great source of support for someone with epilepsy, but it might take some work. Encourage all members of your family to learn as much as they can. Then you can share with each other your feelings, fears, and hopes.

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