Health and Safety Concerns

What to know

  • Most people with epilepsy live a full life.
  • Talk to your doctor about your epilepsy, health, or other concerns.
  • Epilepsy can make you feel cut off from others, sad, or stressed.
  • Controlling seizures can reduce your risk of brain damage or death.
  • Uncontrolled seizures can limit some activities, like driving.
A middle aged man driving a car.

Mental health

  • Epilepsy can lead to feelings of loneliness, sadness, depression, and isolation from others.
  • Finding and getting support for your mental health is very important.
  • You can learn healthy ways to cope with stress and how to connect with others.

Get free mental health help now

Epilepsy and Seizure Helpline

Call the Epilepsy Foundation's 24/7 helpline. Talk to specialists in epilepsy and mental health. They can help you if you are distressed or in crisis.

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline

If you are thinking about suicide or you're worried about a friend or loved one, call or text 988 or chat with a crisis counselor at 988lifeline.orgA.

Injury and death

Status Epilepticus

Having seizures back-to-back within a 5-minute period can increase the risk of brain injury or death. This is called Status Epilepticus and is a medical emergency.

Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP)

People with epilepsy can also die without signs of problems. This is called Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP). Experts think that SUDEP results from problems with breathing or heart rhythm.

Having good control of your seizures can reduce your risk of injury or death.

Seizure triggers

Some people with epilepsy know what brings on or "triggers" a seizure. People with epilepsy have different triggers. Knowing and avoiding your triggers, when possible, is important to managing your epilepsy.

Triggers can include:

  • Lack of sleep.
  • Missing medication.
  • Stress.
  • Use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription drugs in ways other than prescribed.
  • Flashing lights or certain sounds.
  • Hormonal changes with a period or pregnancy.


Some U.S. states have driving restrictions to address public safety concerns for people with certain health conditions including epilepsy. These restrictions vary from state to state.

Most states will not issue a driver's license to someone with epilepsy unless they can prove they have not had a seizure for a specific amount of time. The seizure-free period ranges from a few months to over a year, depending on the state.

Learn about your state's laws from the Epilepsy Foundation.

If you need help with transportation, contact the Epilepsy Foundation's Helpline.

Exercise and physical activity

Exercise may reduce the risk of seizures.1 In fact, exercising safely can benefit your physical health, as well as your mental health and emotional well-being. Just like everyone, people with epilepsy should wear protective gear (such as helmets and knee pads) for some activities, like bike riding.

However, swimming and other water sports can be risky for people with epilepsy. Swimming alone should be avoided.

Talk to your health care provider to learn what types of physical activity is safest for you.

  1. The helpline is supported by CDC.
  1. Arida RM. Physical exercise and seizure activity. Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2021;1867(1):165979. doi:10.1016/j.bbadis.2020.165979