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Anxiety occurring in adolescents who are epileptic might look different than it does in adults; they might seem more argumentative, irritable or aggressive at times, perhaps having angry outbursts or destroying property. Sometimes parents feel that their child is misbehaving, and they ignore important warning signs. For example, your child may have trouble doing the usual things, like going to sleep, getting out of bed or not going to school because of worry about what will happen.
Anxiety disorders are very common in adolescents with epilepsy; the nature of epilepsy can cause adolescents to develop anxiety symptoms. Anxiety can occur as a reaction to the diagnosis, due to seizures or maybe a side effect of some anti-seizure medications. Most frequently, anxiety appears after the diagnosis of epilepsy or after the primary seizure and may involve the fear of getting another event. It's a significant condition that makes it hard for an individual to deal with everyday life. We all feel anxious from time to time, but for a person experiencing anxiety, these feelings cannot be easily controlled.
They often struggle with communicating their feelings effectively, which may affect how they cope and increase their anxiety. Sometimes teens who struggle to express how they are feeling report more symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, back pain, nausea or vomiting. Anxiety can affect the way they think. This can decrease their attention and understanding, and academics may suffer. When this happens, they might unconsciously try to avoid school tasks, pretend to feel sick, and refuse to go to school.
Key things to keep in mind as you address anxiety in adolescents with epilepsy.
Learning about emotions and talking more about ways to recognize and express difficult feelings is vital. Identifying things that cause fear or worry, and developing a plan to deal with them are the first small steps.
When the seizures occur during the school day, or in public places, youth with epilepsy might feel embarrassed about other relatives or classmates seeing them while they are having a seizure. Educating the people close to you and the school might help reduce negative labelling about epilepsy and might help bring a sense of safety and comfort.
The right attitude provides opportunities for them to learn skills to increase their self-esteem by encouraging social interactions and physical activity. Keep in mind to have realistic goals and be patient with their pace. Practising new ways to think about challenging situations can help your child to decrease the kind of thoughts that are self-defeating and encourage problem-solving skills.
Develop a reward system so that your child receives praise or other desired rewards for taking medicine on time, finishing a chore or talks about a difficult day. It is one way of supporting a positive attitude toward epilepsy. Homework, charting, and journaling would help to keep track of skills your child is learning that need to be acknowledged.
Learning how to relax and manage stress can help with most areas of living with epilepsy. Meditation, deep breathing, or mindfulness are effective ways to keep focus.
(AuthoredBy Ms Sneha George, Psychologist, Fortis Malar Hospital)
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