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Epilepsy and Teens

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Epilepsy and Changes in Your Teen continued...

Depression is a bigger problem among teenagers with epilepsy than previously thought, says William R. Turk, MD, chief of the Neurology Division at the Nemours Children's Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. If you think your child might be depressed, it's important to get help.

For parents, some of the emotional preparation for the teenage years can start early. Any parent of a child with epilepsy should work hard to establish a "climate of trust," Turk says. If you have an open and honest relationship with your child when she's young, you may feel more comfortable with her independence as she grows older. On the other hand, if you're always isolating your kids or imposing restrictions on them, they may be more likely to rebel when they get older.

Driving When a Teen Has Epilepsy

Getting a driver's license is a monumental event in most teenagers' lives. It's a rite of passage that many teens with epilepsy worry that they'll miss. However, in most cases, teens with controlled seizures can get a license like anyone else.

The laws vary from state to state, but generally, if a person with epilepsy is on medication and hasn't had a seizure recently, he or she can get a license. Just how long the person must be seizure-free depends on where you live. Also, some states may allow you to get a license if you're having seizures only at a specific time of day when you wouldn't be driving (such as right before bed).

Some parents worry that their teens might not tell them about a seizure for fear they would lose their license. It's important to talk to your teenager about the significance of this information. Having a seizure while driving endangers your teen, his passengers, and other drivers.

"I tell my patients that if they have a seizure, they have to stop driving," Turk says. "It's the law and it's to protect them and their parents and anyone else on the road."

Teens, Dating, and Epilepsy

Obviously, teenagers with epilepsy date just like anyone else. But often they worry about telling dates that they have epilepsy. Your daughter may not want to tell her boyfriend. Your son may not want girls to know. In the end, the decision is up to each teen, but you should encourage your child to be honest and open. When your child enters a serious relationship, it's important for the other person to know about epilepsy. Otherwise your child's boyfriend or girlfriend could be upset and frightened during a seizure.

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