Epilepsy Awareness Day 2023: Understanding and Supporting Those Living with Epilepsy

Epilepsy Awareness Day is observed on March 26th in Australia to raise awareness about epilepsy, a neurological disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. In this blog, we will explore what epilepsy is, its impact on people’s lives, and how we can help those living with this condition.

Understanding Epilepsy:

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures or fits, which can be sudden, brief, and sometimes violent. The seizures occur due to temporary disruption of the electrical activity in the brain, and they can affect a person’s behaviour, consciousness, and body movements. There are many types of seizures, and they can be classified as generalized or focal seizures. Epilepsy can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 National Health Survey (ABS 2018a; 2018b) it is estimated that in 2017–18, 0.6% of Australians, or 151,000 people, had epilepsy.

Impact of Epilepsy:

Epilepsy can have a significant impact on a person’s life, affecting their physical, emotional, and social well-being. People with epilepsy may experience stigma, discrimination, and social isolation due to their condition. They may also face challenges in education, employment, and relationships. Epilepsy can also increase the risk of accidents, injuries, and premature death, particularly if seizures are not adequately controlled.
Depending on where the seizure happens in the brain, this can cause changes in:

  • sensation and feeling
  • awareness and consciousness
  • emotions and behaviour
  • movement

Seizures vary and can be very brief or last up to two or three minutes. Most seizures are generally over in less than two minutes. Some seizures are severe and some very subtle. Under certain circumstances, anyone can have a seizure and not all seizures are diagnosed as epilepsy.

How to Help Someone with Epilepsy:

If you know someone living with epilepsy, there are several things you can do to support them:

  1. Educate yourself about epilepsy: Learn about the condition, its symptoms, and its treatments. This will help you understand what your loved one is going through and how to support them better.
  2. Be supportive and non-judgmental: Encourage your loved one to talk about their experiences and feelings, and listen to them without judgment. Let them know that you are there for them and that you care about them.
  3. Help them manage their condition: Assist your loved one in keeping track of their medications, appointments, and seizure triggers. Offer to accompany them to medical appointments and provide practical help when needed.
  4. Create a safe environment: Ensure that your loved one’s living space is safe and free from potential hazards, such as sharp objects or hot surfaces. During a seizure, remove any nearby objects that could cause harm and cushion their head with a soft object.
  5. Spread awareness: Educate others about epilepsy and help reduce the stigma associated with the condition. Encourage your loved one to participate in epilepsy awareness events and activities.

This day provides an opportunity to raise awareness about epilepsy and to support those living with this condition. By understanding epilepsy and offering support to those affected by it, we can help create a more inclusive and supportive community. If you or someone you know is living with epilepsy, remember that you are not alone, and there is help available.