March 20, 2023

High Rates of Body Image Dissatisfaction Shown in Patients With Epilepsy

Article published by AJMC

Body image dissatisfaction, a marker for reduced quality of life (QOL), showed elevated levels of prevalence among adults with epilepsy, according to study findings published in Epilepsy & Behavior.

As a known risk factor for reduced QOL, epilepsy and its treatments have been shown to cause physical changes in patients (e.g., skin rashes, unwanted weight changes) that can then lead to detrimental physiological outcomes such as embarrassment, self-consciousness, and body dysmorphia.

“Although related to self-esteem, body image chiefly concerns how we subjectively see our physical bodies—good and bad. Body image dissatisfaction comprises unhappy, unrealistic, and maladaptive evaluations of one’s appearance, and in the general population is associated with a host of adverse emotional outcomes,” said the study authors.

“Together, these physical aspects of epilepsy and its treatment could reasonably be speculated to undermine the body image of people with the disease, yet to date, there has been no such empirical investigation.”

Researchers conducted a prospective analysis of patients with and without epilepsy to further examine the adverse impact of body image dissatisfaction. A total of 63 adults with epilepsy and 48 age- and gender-matched healthy controls were recruited for the analysis from a tertiary epilepsy program at Austin Health, Melbourne, as well as from newsletters and social media.

Participants were assessed via an online survey that examined self-reported demographic and medical information and the following psychological measures: trait (long-term) body image dissatisfaction, state (current) body image dissatisfaction, body image impact from epilepsy, mood, and QOL.

Between-group analyses were conducted to compare measures of body image dissatisfaction, as well as clinical and psychosocial factors. The associations between rates of body image dissatisfaction and depression scores, QOL, and epilepsy-related factors were also examined.