Epilepsy and anxiety disorder: Stress is a compulsory human emotion that is designed to alert you to potential dangers and protect you from potential threats. For many people, feelings of stress are short-duration, but for some people, it can become a chronic condition that significantly affects their quality of life.
Stress can result in a wide range of mental and physical symptoms, including epilepsy disorder, also called pseudoseizures. According to a study published in epilepsy, anxiety is the most common mental condition that affects people who have epilepsy. Some researchers found that about 30 to 35 percent of people with epilepsy also experience anxiety.
Keep reading to know more about epilepsy and anxiety disorders in people. In this blog, you will understand the difference and similarities between epilepsy and anxiety disorder.
What is epilepsy and anxiety disorder?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that results in seizures. Seizures occur when the electrical activity of your brain becomes abnormal. Some other conditions may also result in seizures, such as alcohol withdrawal or head injury.
There are various types of seizures with multiple symptoms. You may lose consciousness, fall on the floor, or violently shake. Within a few minutes, you will be awake but feel sleepy or confused. You may also lose awareness of your surroundings and stare for a few seconds.
If you live with multiple seizures, your healthcare professional might test your epilepsy. If you are diagnosed with epilepsy seizures, they will likely prescribe various medications to help in managing your symptoms. In many cases, they may recommend surgery or other treatments.
Anxiety disorder is a common mental condition. There are different types of anxiety. Many people feel low from time to time. But with anxiety, the symptoms do not usually go away without a cure. If you have anxiety, you may:
- sleep too much or very little
- feel scared, sad, or worried
- lose interest in usual daily activities
- have different pains and aches
- be more or less hungry than usual
- have trouble paying attention and concentration
Anxiety can interfere with your school and work and also personal relationships. It may also make difficulty in performing daily life activities.
If you have epilepsy and anxiety disorder, consult your healthcare provider immediately. They may provide treatment or refer to a professional.
Can anxiety cause epileptic seizures?
An epilepsy seizure is an uncontrolled electrical activity in the patient's brain for a short duration. It can provoke a wide range of changes in the body. It is a chronic condition that causes recurrent unpredictable seizures.
Seizures occur due to various triggers, including increased anxiety and stress. However, some research suggests that it is hard to know how stress can trigger attacks. It is because stress has different meanings among different people.
Even people without epilepsy and anxiety disorder, and stress can trigger pseudoseizures, also known as PNES. It is physiologically different from the neurological seizures found in epilepsy.
For many people who have epilepsy, signs of anxiety can act as an aura. An aura is a warning symptom that a seizure is about to occur. You may also feel anxious or stressed after a seizure attack for various days.
Or you may also experience anxiety for a long duration. Epilepsy and anxiety disorder can potentially affect you at any time.
Can epilepsy cause panic attacks?
When you consider a diagnosis of epileptic seizures, it is necessary to distinguish it correctly from other mental disorders. Many people with a high level of anxiety can experience panic attacks, which have an intense feeling of fear, nervousness, and sudden onset of bodily symptoms such as hyperventilation, flushing of the skin, fast heartbeat, or sweating.
In rare cases, panic attacks have been misdiagnosed as epilepsy; it has even been misdiagnosed as panic attacks. These signs of epilepsy and anxiety disorder can be present during seizure attacks. In many cases, two are hard to differentiate. In extreme cases, hyperventilation caused due to anxiety can trigger a convulsion, further complicating the treatment.
Panic attacks occur suddenly without any warning and can be highly frightening. An individual usually believes that they represent a severe medical condition. Because seizures and panic attacks can be so similar, it is necessary to use techniques such as EEG and MRI to differentiate between them.
According to various studies, about 83 percent of individuals who had seizures also reported having accompanying panic attacks. In addition, some researchers analyzed that about 30 percent of individuals with voluntarily induced hyperventilation also experienced episodes.
Epileptic seizures symptoms
Although epileptic seizures and neurological seizures may appear the same, there are some differences in symptoms between the two conditions. For instance, seizures may feature some of the symptoms found in neurological episodes, including
- loss of body control
- lowered awareness
- thrashing and flailing
- tongue biting
- head arching
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, epileptical seizures may also present with symptoms that do not traditionally occur in neurological seizures, such as:
- muscle contractions
- side-to-side head movements
- closed or fluttering eyes
- non-synchronized body movements
- crying during the episodes
- memory problems
- avoidant behaviors
Another prominent feature of seizures is that these symptoms tend to appear more gradually and last longer than in neurological seizures.
How to diagnose epileptical seizures?
If you are experiencing seizures, your healthcare professional will most likely refer you to an inpatient setting for testing.
The following lab tests are essential for building a picture of why seizures are happening:
- Electroencephalography: Your healthcare professional connects you to an electroencephalography machine and a video monitoring system when you stay in the hospital. The EEG machine tracks electrical activity in the brain; on the other hand, the video monitoring system records any physical symptoms.
- CT and MRI scan: Your health care professional may need to request further imaging of the patient's brain with a CT or MRI scan. They also perform additional testing to rule out other underlying conditions, such as nutrient deficiency.
- Seizure analysis: Your healthcare professional may analyze any seizures during your stay to determine the correct diagnosis. If you experience seizures, but no unusual brain activity, the most likely diagnosis is elliptical seizures.
How do you treat anxiety and epilepsy seizures?
Treating epilepsy and anxiety disorders simultaneously can be a big challenge. Antianxiety and antiseizure drugs may affect your symptoms. These drugs may also affect each other and cause symptoms of one or both conditions to worsen. For instance, many people should not take bupropion for epilepsy and anxiety disorder if they also have epilepsy. This drug can increase the frequency of your seizures.
Some scientists encouraged experts and patients to start low and go slow and use the lowest effective dose. Your healthcare professional may begin your treatment at the lowest possible dose of a drug and check back with you to analyze how it affects you. In many cases, a heavy dose increase the risk of side effects and interactions.
You may need to try various drugs and doses to find what works best for your symptoms. Do not make any changes to your medications without first consulting the experts. They may prescribe medicines according to your symptoms and needs. In addition to drugs, they can also recommend some lifestyle changes, behavioral treatments, and other treatments.
While epilepsy and anxiety disorder is unlikely to trigger neurological seizures in people without epilepsy, it can start your PNES with an underlying mental health condition. Since these seizure episodes have a psychiatric origin, treating the underlying anxiety can help to reduce these episodes.
If you are concerned that you are experiencing epilepsy seizures, consult your healthcare professional immediately for treatment.