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Epilepsy and Teens

Coping with a teenager can be difficult for any parent, but teens with epilepsy pose additional problems. What if your teen won't take his medicine? Will he be safe driving? Will she put herself at risk of having more seizures by drinking or taking drugs?

Parents don't have complete control over their teens, as much as they may wish to. And letting your teen have greater independence is crucial for healthy development. Once your teen goes away to college or moves out of the home, you're going to have to have faith that she can take care of herself. The teenage years are the in-between time, when you must give up some control of your child's health so he or she can step in and begin taking charge.

Epilepsy and Changes in Your Teen

Adolescence is a volatile time both socially and biologically. A lot of profound changes are taking place. It's especially important that once a child hits puberty, he or she go back to the doctor for a check-up. It's possible that the physical changes of puberty may warrant an adjustment in your teen's medication.

A lot of parents find that their teenager wants to stop taking medication. Some teens with epilepsy feel like they no longer need epilepsy drugs, or they don't want to be controlled by a drug. It's important that you make clear to your teen the risk of stopping medication. Teens may need to be reminded what it was like when they had regular seizures. Also, if they haven't had a seizure in some time, point out that the reason may be that their drugs are working.

Teenage years are often a time when standing out is the last thing a child wants. A lot of kids feel painfully awkward, and it can be worse for teenagers with epilepsy.

  • They may be embarrassed by their condition.
  • They may be terrified of having a seizure in public.
  • They may also not like the side effects of their medication, which may affect their concentration or their physical appearance.

It's important to get any of these concerns checked out with a doctor. It's possible that a change in medicine could ease some of their concerns.

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.

WebMD Medical Reference

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