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Stress and epilepsy: fact or fiction, and what can we do about it?
  1. Clare M Galtrey1,
  2. Marco Mula1,2,
  3. Hannah R Cock1,2
  1. 1Epilepsy Group, Atkinson Morley Regional Neuroscience Centre, St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  2. 2Institute of Biomedical & Medical Education, St George's University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hannah Cock, Institute of Medical and Biomedical Education, St Georges, University of London, Cranmer Terrace, SW17 0QT, London, UK; hannahrc{at}


People with epilepsy report that stress is their most common trigger for seizures and some believe it caused their epilepsy in the first place. The extensive preclinical, epidemiological and clinical studies examining the link between stress and epilepsy have given confusing results; the clinical studies in particular are fraught with confounders. However stress is clearly bad for health, and we now have substantial preclinical evidence suggesting that chronic stress worsens epilepsy; in selected cases it may even be a causal factor for epilepsy. Healthcare professionals working with people with epilepsy should pay more attention to stress in clinical practice. This review includes some practical advice and guidance for stress screening and management.

  • seizures
  • mechanisms
  • treatment

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