Epilepsy and Memory

Published: 18 Feb 2020
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See our downloadable guide explaining why people with epilepsy can have memory problems, and some ideas for improving memory.


This resource contains more information about the following topics:


Memory and Memory Problems – This section covers the role of the short-term and long-term memory, and other types of memory such as visual, verbal, procedural, semantic and episodic memory.


Memory and Epilepsy – People with Epilepsy often have memory issues for many different reasons, including:

Seizures – Memory is often impaired during seizures, as patients often report a complete loss of memory during the event. However, memory can also be impaired before seizures; changes in the brain before a seizure can mean that information is not processed well enough to pass into the long-term memory.

Epilepsy Medication – Side effects such as a loss in concentration and drowsiness can affect remembering, however if the drugs stop seizures, memory should be overall improved.

Mood – Research shows that people with epilepsy are more likely to be depressed and anxious, which can cause memory impairment and a lack of focus.

Lack of Sleep – If patients of epilepsy do not get sufficient sleep, seizures are much more likely to occur, therefore impairing memory more often. Sleep also promotes improvements in memory.

Surgery – Some patients with epilepsy will choose to have surgery to try to stop seizures, however this can cause memory impairment.


Improving Memory – Using the recommendations below, memory can still be improved for epilepsy patients:

Focus on one thing at a time – if focus is not given to one task specifically, it is likely that you will forget about that task, and instead start to think about something else.

Record information – If you find yourself struggling to remember information such as events and dates, keep a calendar or a diary.

Staying active – Keeping the mind active with activities such as crosswords or even physical exercise can be helpful to improve memory and cognition.

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