2. The Social and Psychological Impacts of Epilepsy

  1. Cynthia L. Harden MD Professor of Neurology3,
  2. Sanjeev V. Thomas MD, DM Professor of Neurology4 and
  3. Torbjörn Tomson MD, PhD Professor of Neurology and Epileptology5
  1. Sanjeev V. Thomas1 and
  2. Aparna Nair2

Published Online: 24 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118531037.ch2

Epilepsy in Women

Epilepsy in Women

How to Cite

Thomas, S. V. and Nair, A. (2013) The Social and Psychological Impacts of Epilepsy, in Epilepsy in Women (eds C. L. Harden, S. V. Thomas and T. Tomson), John Wiley & Sons, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118531037.ch2

Editor Information

  1. 3

    Chief, Division of Epilepsy and Electroencephalography, Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, Cushing Neuroscience Institutes, Brain and Spine Specialists, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, Great Neck, New York, USA

  2. 4

    Department of Neurology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala State, India

  3. 5

    Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Neurology, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

  2. 2

    Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum, Kerala, India

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 11 MAR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470672679

Online ISBN: 9781118531037



  • epilepsy;
  • stigma;
  • psychosocial;
  • women;
  • adolescence


Epilepsy affects men and women equally, yet women are more vulnerable to the psychosocial burdens of epilepsy. Most persons with epilepsy are able to handle the psychological and social stress due to epilepsy effectively. Nevertheless, they may experience difficulties with education, employment, mobility, leisure activities, social interactions, and relationships. The psychosocial problems of females with epilepsy tend to vary across the life course. While young children with epilepsy are prone to general behavioral problems, female adolescents with epilepsy can demonstrate low self-esteem, perceptions of self and body image. Adolescent girls also experience social isolation and difficulties in establishing partner relationships, when issues related to disclosure of the epilepsy assumes greater significance. Adult women with epilepsy are susceptible to psychosocial problems when they experience difficulties in balancing their illness with the social, economic, familial, and biological roles. Elderly women with epilepsy tend to have more negative affect. The social milieu and cultural background have a strong influence on the psychosocial outcomes of epilepsy. Seizure severity and frequency are other determinants of the psychosocial problems. A comprehensive knowledge of how epilepsy impacts the social and psychological domains would enable one to develop proper strategies to overcome these issues.