Do people with epilepsy have a different lifestyle?

Epilepsy Behav. 2017 Sep;74:27-32. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2017.06.006. Epub 2017 Jun 30.


Background: Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological diseases. Its high prevalence, economic relevance and impact on daily life make it crucial that we study this condition in further detail. Our study seeks to investigate whether the lifestyle of people diagnosed with epilepsy is different to that of people without epilepsy, in order to better understand our patients.

Methods: We designed and delivered a questionnaire about quality of life and daily habits to patients from our hospital's Epilepsy Unit. We also delivered the questionnaire to a control group with similar demographic characteristics. Lifestyle differences between patients and control group members were analyzed. Patients were further divided according to the type of epilepsy, time since diagnosis, seizure frequency and pharmacotherapy.

Results: A total of 278 people were interviewed (85 patients, 193 controls). There was no difference in educational level, marital status and healthy habits (sports, reading and diet) between the groups. However, patients with epilepsy were more often unemployed (p<0.05) and had a healthier lifestyle (lower body mass index, lower alcohol consumption and a tendency towards smoking less). Anxiolytic-antidepressant intake was higher in patients with epilepsy. In terms of the type of epilepsy, patients with focal epilepsy exercised more than those with generalized epilepsy; no other statistically significant differences were found between the individuals studied.

Discussion: Epilepsy diagnosis does not seem to negatively alter the daily life of patients; in fact, many adopt a healthier lifestyle after diagnosis. The risk of antidepressant/anxiolytic intake is, however, higher, which could reflect the impact this chronic condition still has at a social level.

Keywords: Antidepressants; Body mass index; Epilepsy; Lifestyle; Toxic habits.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Body Mass Index
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Epilepsy / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Healthy Lifestyle*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*


  • Antidepressive Agents