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.
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