Dare to go the distance

Role of Primary Care and General Neurology

Most people can be treated with medications initially by a general neurologist. A neurologist should be seen at some point early on to make sure the diagnosis is correct, look for any other issues that need treatment, and recommend treatment options. If a neurologist is not available for ongoing care, a primary care provider can prescribe medicines and work with you.

Your primary care provider should be aware of all your epilepsy treatments to avoid any possible drug interactions with other medicines and help you manage your overall health. Keep in mind that epilepsy can affect people in many ways and you’ll want your primary care provider to be aware of this.

When to See an Epilepsy Specialist

An epilepsy specialist (called an epileptologist) is a neurologist that specializes in epilepsy. They may be found in private practice or at a comprehensive epilepsy center.

It’s time to take another look and see an epilepsy specialist if…

  1. Seizures continue or you are having side effects after trying at least 2 drugs over a long enough period of time that is appropriate for your type of seizures.
  2. Your diagnosis not clear. Sometimes events thought to be seizures may be caused by other medical or psychological factors. These need to be sorted out so you can get the right treatment.
  3. You are having trouble tolerating medicines.
  4. Medicines don’t work well enough and it’s time to consider other treatments such as surgery, dietary therapy, devices, clinical trials, or other treatments.
  5. Genetic concerns arise.
  6. You are a woman who has seizures associated with menses, you are pregnant, or you are going through menopause so you can get help managing your epilepsy.
  7. You are an older person diagnosed with seizures for the first time.
  8. Current care is not working or you want a second opinion.
  9. Epilepsy is causing other health problems or affecting daily activities and the quality of your life.

Getting Other Help and Support

Living with epilepsy can affect you in many ways. Doctors offer medical and diagnostic help. You’ll also have many more questions and concerns along your journey and you’ll want help specific to those concerns.

  1. Emotional concerns and stress affect everyone. People may feel scared, anxious, sad, overwhelmed, or down as they realize the impact of seizures or start medicines. Fears or concerns may be different for the person with epilepsy or the parent or loved one. Getting help and support at this time is crucial!
  2. People with epilepsy may also be at greater risk of having problems with depression or anxiety. If you notice symptoms or changes in mood, emotions and daily life, check it out. Seeing a psychiatrist can help to sort out what is going on and ways to treat it.
  3. Don’t wait to be offered help. Ask your doctor or nurse for help finding someone to talk to, such as a nurse specializing in epilepsy, social worker, or psychologist.
  4. Connect with a local Epilepsy Foundation to find help in your community.
  5. Connect with us online in the forums and chat, join others on social media, or call our 24/7 Helpline at 800-332-1000.
Authored By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Authored Date: 
09/2016
Reviewed By: 
Joseph I. Sirven MD