Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 51-55

Impact of COVID-19 on people suffering with epilepsy

1 Department of Neurology, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Rajendra K Sureka
47 Sanjay Marg, Hathroi Scheme, Jaipur, Rajasthan - 302 001
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_623_20

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Background: Epilepsy is one of the most common problems in neurology clinical practice and currently we are in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus pandemic is an epidemiological and psychological crisis, which is likely to affect persons with epilepsy. Objectives: This study was designed to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on patients with epilepsy and effects on their mental health. Materials and Methods: This was a cross-sectional web-based survey carried out at the department of Neurology at a tertiary care hospital. A questionnaire was designed in the local language using Google Forms to assess basic knowledge regarding epilepsy, coronavirus, effects of COVID-19 and lockdown on epileptic patients and also effects on their mental health. The link to the online survey was distributed via WhatsApp messenger to epilepsy patients. Results: One hundred fifty-six cases were enrolled with 69.1% were below 34 years of age and male: female ratio was 1.2:1. Only 34.3% of the participants were employed and 50% of patients had an income of less than Rs. 3000 per month. Of the patients enrolled, 20.5% reported the “devil” and superstitions as a cause of epilepsy and only 10% of patients thought that tantric (holy priest) could treat the disease better than doctors. 53.8% of patients worried about getting COVID-19 and could not stop thoughts about being infected by coronavirus bothering them. 30.3% patients had increased seizure frequency during COVID-19 pandemic, of which the most common reason was that they forgot to take regular antiepileptic drugs (22.7%) or they had faced difficulty in obtaining medicine due to lockdown (12.1%). During the pandemic, 17% of patients reported depression symptoms and another 21% reported anxiety symptoms. Conclusion: The current COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected patients with epilepsy and increased seizure frequency, depression, anxiety, unemployment, and financial difficulty in obtaining medication.

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