Have A Child With Epilepsy? Here’s How To Cope With The Emotional Impact.


I see a lot of children with epilepsy in my practice and have recognized over the years how profoundly this condition impacts not just the child but the rest of the family members, too. To help everyone involved deal with the many interrelated aspects involved with epilepsy, I offer this blog.

As well as the physical and neurological attributes of epilepsy, this condition also represents a complicated combination of psychological and emotional consequences, especially for children.

Some facts about pediatric epilepsy

According to the Society for Pediatric Psychology:

  • Approximately 6 out of 1,000 children currently have epilepsy in the U.S.
    Maja Ilic

    Maja Ilic, MD

  • Epilepsy is slightly more prevalent in males compared to females
  • Epilepsy tends to increase with age
  • Children under 2 years of age and children from lower-income families are at highest risk for epilepsy
  • 66% of children with a current or previous diagnosis of epilepsy were white non-Hispanic, 13% white Hispanic, 11% black and 9% multi/biracial/other

Children with epilepsy are at highest risk for other physical and psychological conditions

The prevalence of behavioral problems in children with epilepsy is twice that in children with chronic illnesses not involving the central nervous system, and 4 times what is seen in healthy children.

Continued epileptic seizures are associated with significant deficits in academic performance, IQ, quality of life, psychopathology and family functioning. Children with epilepsy are also more likely to have hearing/vision problems, asthma and headaches, as well as the following:

  • comorbidities (the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or condition)
  • disruptive behavioral disorders (such as ADHD)
  • learning disorders (speech and language, attention, memory, and cognitive processes dysfunction)
  • internalizing disorders (anxiety, depression)

A high psychological cost for children with epilepsy and their families

Despite the cause or status of the epilepsy, emotional, behavioral and relationship difficulties are common in children with this condition. These difficulties constitute a significant burden to epileptic children and their families, and comprehensive, ongoing mental health services are needed for these patients and families.

Because of the enormous stress associated with this condition, for both the pediatric patient and his/her family, significant counseling resources—including psychiatrists, social workers, child life therapists and other counselors are very helpful.

If your child has epilepsy, please come see me

If your child is experiencing epileptic seizures, please make an appointment with my Westchester Health Pediatrics office to see me. I am a pediatric neurologist  and epileptologist with extensive experienced in treating epilepsy.

By Maja Ilic, MD, a specialist in Pediatric Neurology and Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology with Westchester Health Pediatrics.

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About the Author: ML Ball