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Seizure Phobia

Last updated: June 2022

Feeling anxious during stressful situations is normal. But, when you feel anxious and worried most or all the time, you might have an anxiety disorder. A phobia is a strong fear that is an anxiety disorder. The fear can be of something specific or a situation. Having an irrational fear might keep you from doing things you would normally enjoy.1,2

Seizure phobia is a fear of seizures or of having another seizure. Having this phobia can lead to anxiety and avoidance behaviors. People with seizure phobia may try to avoid situations where they could have a seizure. This could cause problems with excessive worrying or avoiding certain activities.3

What is the relationship between anxiety and seizures?

Anxiety and seizures have a complex relationship. The link between the two is not always clear:4

  • Fear – Not knowing when your next seizure will happen can be scary. Fear of having seizures is real and can lead to severe anxiety.
  • Stress – The unpredictable nature of seizures is stressful. To make things worse, stress can trigger another seizure. This stress-seizure cycle can increase anxiety.
  • Embarrassment – Some people feel intense anxiety after a seizure. This could be from brain chemicals or feeling a loss of control if the seizure was seen by others.
  • Anti-seizure drugs – Some drugs used to manage seizures can cause anxiety.

What are the symptoms of seizure phobia?

People with phobias try to avoid the things that scare them. Those with seizure phobia try to avoid having a seizure. Symptoms of seizure phobia may include:2-4

  • Panic or fear of having another seizure
  • Avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding activities you previously enjoyed
  • Physical symptoms such as:
    • Racing heart
    • Sweating
    • Shaking

What causes seizure phobia?

The cause of seizure phobia is not fully known. It may be caused by:5

  • A past experience with seizures
  • Witnessing someone else having a seizure
  • A past severe or disabling seizure
  • A family history of anxiety

Diagnosing seizure phobia

Tests alone do not confirm seizure phobia. Your doctor will start by asking you questions about your health. They will ask you about:6

  • Family history of mental health disorders
  • Personal history of mental health disorders
  • History of your seizures, including:
    • Type of seizures
    • When the seizures started
    • Any treatment you take

Your doctor will ask about what happens during your seizures, including:6

  • When they happen
  • How long they last
  • How you feel before, during, and after

Using this information, your doctor might diagnose seizure phobia. There is no single test to diagnose the problem. You might need to also see a mental health expert to get the diagnosis.6

How is seizure phobia treated?

Seizure phobia can be treated with medicine and counseling. Medicines include antianxiety drugs and antidepressants. Counseling and talk therapy can help you learn how to manage your anxiety and fear.2-4

Behavior therapy is a common form of treatment used to reduce anxiety. It helps people learn skills they can use to manage their anxiety. This type of therapy teaches self-reliance and self-control.2-4

Coping with anxiety and seizure phobia can feel overwhelming. Treatment is available and is usually very effective. Getting the support you need is a priority. There are things you can do to help manage your symptoms. You can:4,6

Most people who seek treatment for phobia find relief from their feelings of fear and panic. Help is available to live a full, productive life while living with epilepsy.4,6

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The EpilepsyDisease.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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