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yesterday was world epilepsy day – a day to bring awareness to public about epilepsy, a neurological disorder wherein there is a disturbance in the normal electrical activity of the brain. this disturbance causes seizures (‘fits’ in lay person’s language). it may affect the consciousness or the behaviour or the sensory perception of the affected person. the type of seizure, its manifestation varies from person to person. it can be fully cured by a very strict regimen of medication for about 3 to 5 years, depending on the individual case.

there is a big social stigma attached to this disorder and hence many a times the disorder is hidden by the family members and not given the required treatment. lay people are sometimes taken aback by the affected person’s behaviour as they do not have knowledge about this condition. this makes them develop certain myths and misconceptions about this condition and hence a stigma gets attached to the condition.

as a mental health worker i would like to inform you all that epilepsy is not to be feared or hidden from society. the condition generally occurs during childhood, but it can manifest at any age during adulthood too. the causes of seizures may be infections, like, encephelitis, brain injury due to fall or motor accident, high fever (febrile fits), in some people even head bath with hot water or it can occur due to any structural abnormality in brain that has occured during the developmental stage of the brain. it can just be a single episode of seizure in a person’s lifetime or many such episodes can occur, when it is called epileptic seizure.

it is very important to get the person the due medical attention. the condition should never be neglected or ignored. left untreated, it can cause further damage to brain cells or can even cause gradual impairment of intellectual faculties like perception, understanding, memory or thinking. family physicians, pediatricians or neurologists can treat this condition. diagnostic procedure like EEG (Electro Encephalogram) can determine the specific area of abnormal electric activity in the brain. CT scan or MRI can detect any abnormal growth like tumours in the brain. treatment and dosage depend on the age, family history, probable cause and the pattern of seizures. duration of medication is usually for 3 to 5 years.

there are people who have fought this condition bravely, kept it under control and have made huge achievements in life. Mr. Jonty Rhodes, world famous cricketer of south africa, is brilliant on the field and is a good batsman. our own bangalorean, Mr. K.C.Janardhan, is a world famous calligrapher (handwriting expert) whose services are used by many Management Institutions abroad and in India. thus people with epilepsy are as normal as any of us and may exceed us in many capabilities. it is the obligation of every one of us to render them support, encouragement and accord total respect to them as a productive member of our society.

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