Epilepsy or seizure disorder is the fourth most common neurological disorder affecting people of all ages. As we observe National Epilepsy Day, doctors at Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon are advocating the need for greater awareness about the medical condition to quell the social stigma associated with it.
Despite being a common condition, a number of myths, misconceptions, and stigma is attached to it, preventing a number of people from openly discussing their condition and seeking the right medical treatment and care.
At a press conference to highlight the prevalence of this condition and raise awareness about it, doctors said that ignorance and lack of awareness about neurological conditions is at the root of social stigmatization.
“We come across many people who have been silently suffering from the condition for years without seeking medical treatment because they are too embarrassed to discuss it with someone. Families even try to hide the condition of their loved one from the society fearing stigmatization and segregation. Many people even link Epilepsy with insanity which is an absolutely ignorant thing to do. It is important to raise awareness about the condition and educate people that epilepsy is a medical condition which can be effectively treated,” says Dr Rajnish Kumar, Sr Consultant & Unit Head, Neurology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon.
Dr. Amit Arora, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon and Dr Sunil Singla, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon also participated in the press conference.
The press conference was also attended by patients who shared their experiences and emphasized how the right treatment had brought back normalcy to their lives.
14 year old, Sanchit Garg, was suffering from seizures almost daily for the past one year despite being on medication for generalized clonic tonic seizures. However, at Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon, his condition was diagnosed as that of pseudo seizures. Pseudoseizures are paroxysmal episodes that resemble and are often misdiagnosed as epileptic seizures; though they have psychological origin. Sanchit is now under the treatment of Dr. Rajnish Kumar, and is living a seizure-free life. Other patients who participated in the press conference included 58-year-old Mrs Pramila Tomar and 34 year old Mr. Ravi Tomar, both from the same family; and 10-year-old Ashi who was experiencing seizures from last 2 years due to hyperactivities in brain.
Like all mental and neurological disorders, epilepsy is often looked upon as if it is a matter of embarrassment and shame. Epilepsy is a spectrum condition with a wide range of seizure types and control varying from person-to-person. A seizure is actually a disruption of the electrical communication between neurons inside the brain. Epilepsy is characterized by unpredictable seizures and can cause other health problems.
“Neurological or mental disorders have long been looked upon with stigma. The reason for this scenario is that unlike other medical specialties, human understanding of nervous system is relatively new. Medical community now understands well how episodes of seizure are provoked by the brain. However, this awareness is still low among the common people. Due to ignorance and myths, people in ancient and medieval societies gave seizure disorders ‘evil’ or supernatural connotations. The stigma has somehow continued to persist,” added Dr. Rajnish Kumar.
Unfortunately, public perception and misunderstanding of epilepsy causes challenges that are often worse than the seizures. In many communities in India, especially the rural population, epilepsy is not even recognized as a medical condition and patients are often taken to faith healers for treatment.
Having seizures and epilepsy can affect relationships, work ability, driving and can be a safety hazard. With sustained medical treatment, most epileptic patients are able to live healthy and productive lives.