Living with Epilepsy
Stress and Psychological Considerations
The impact of having epilepsy or having a child with epilepsy can cause significant stress to patients and their caregivers. Many factors can affect quality of life, including the reason for epilepsy in the first place; the seizure type, frequency, and intensity; medication side effects; and the age when the seizures started – just to name a few. The Epilepsy Center at The Mount Sinai Hospital understands that these issues are very important, and we work closely with patients and caregivers to address them.
Driving and Epilepsy
Restrictions on driving are often cited by patients as one of the most difficult aspects of having epilepsy. Every state has different guidelines regarding epilepsy and driving, and it is the role of the physician to inform patients about those guidelines.
In New York State, physicians are not required to report incidence of seizures to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, individuals with epilepsy are expected to provide that information to the DMV. Driving is then restricted until 12 months after the last seizure.
No physician in the United States has the authority to tell a patient that he or she may drive, as this decision is made by each state’s driving authority. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your state’s regulations.
If an individual is seizure-free but is still experiencing motor, visual, or cognitive difficulties that affect driving, The Mount Sinai Hospital offers a detailed driving assessment for safety.
Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP)
Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) affects about 1 in 3,000 people with epilepsy each year. There is higher risk of SUDEP in patients who have difficult-to-treat seizures, especially who often have generalized tonic-clonic seizures. The cause of SUDEP is still not clear, but leading theories of the causes include irregular heart rate, poor respiration, or brain “shut down” that are associated with seizures. SUDEP is best prevented by good seizure control (being compliant with taking seizure medications) and close supervision.
The Mount Sinai Epilepsy Center
1468 Madison Avenue
Annenberg 2nd floor
New York, New York 10029