Epilepsy and anxiety in children

Epilepsy is one of the most frequent neurological conditions in children, and about 4000 children in Denmark have epilepsy. A diagnosis of epilepsy is frequently accompanied by impaired physical or cognitive function, and almost a third of children and young people with epilepsy develop an anxiety disorder. Living with a chronic condition often means poorer quality of life, and challenges in taking part in social groups and activities with others of the same age. An anxiety disorder makes it even more difficult for children with epilepsy to enjoy life as a child and develop well.

The aim of this project, ‘Get Anxiety under Control – when your child has epilepsy’ is to adapt and pilot test a well-established treatment plan for families. It is currently used successfully with children who have no other condition apart from anxiety. The programme was developed at the Centre for Anxiety at the University of Copenhagen.

“We want to try out this well established treatment plan with children who have epilepsy and anxiety. Of course, we will adapt it to the special needs that arise when a child with anxiety also has epilepsy and a functional impairment,” explains Anne Vagner Jacobsen, Post Doc researcher at Filadelfia Research at the Filadelfia Epilepsy Hospital.

The course of treatment will be tested on 32 families with children aged 6 to 15 who have epilepsy and anxiety. When the project is completed, a decision will be made about whether to add the family programme as a regular element of treatment at the Filadelfia Epilepsy Hospital.

“The support of the Vissing Foundation is important for this project, because it means that more families can take part in the anxiety treatment programme, and during the project we can regularly measure the effect and adapt the programme. This means that when the project ends, we will immediately have a treatment programme that can be implemented at the clinic,” explains Anne Vagner Jakobsen.