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The Dangers of Epilepsy Stigma

Because epilepsy stigma and stereotypes are so prevalent, some people misunderstand epilepsy and others with the condition hesitate to get help.

Epilepsy stigma: Epilepsy is associated with neurological disabilities, such as developmental delay.

Epilepsy truth: “The majority of people who have seizure disorders do not have neurological disabilities,” Dr. Haltiner says.

Epilepsy stigma: People with epilepsy are violent.

Epilepsy truth: “During a seizure, a person may appear frightened, confused, angry, or combative, but violent behaviors are not associated with epilepsy,” Patternak says.

Epilepsy stigma: People with epilepsy cannot hold a job.

Epilepsy truth: “Although some individuals may have restrictions – such as driving, lifting heavy objects, or climbing ladders – many people with epilepsy are able to successfully work,” Patternak says.

Epilepsy stigma: Epilepsy is contagious.

Epilepsy truth: Epilepsy is not contagious. In some cases, it results from a medical condition or injury to the brain. In other cases, the cause is unknown.

Coping With Epilepsy Stigma

One of the best things you can do to cope with the stigma is to have support from others who have the seizure disorder.Take it upon yourself to educate others and increase awareness about the condition to debunk epilepsy stereotypes. oCntact your local chapter of the Epilepsy Foundation to find out what education programs they offer.

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  • Learn about epilepsy.
  • Know what to do when a seizure happens by learning seizure first aid.
  • Listen. Sometimes this is the best form of support.
  • Ask your friend what you can do to help.
  • Tell the people close to you — friends, relatives, teachers, coaches — about your epilepsy and teach them what to do in case you have a seizure when they’re with you.
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