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Epilepsy – Psychological Risk Factors

February 11, 2022


Seizures have a big impact on someone’s life. And this is one of these underrecognized undertreated sort of areas in epilepsy. And it’s important to sort of recognize two specific things. One is the occurrence, the co-occurrence, of psychiatric disease with epilepsy. So and it sort of makes sense if you think about it. I mean epilepsy does is a disease of neurochemicals and electrical discharges that change the neurotransmitters in the brain and those same neurotransmitters which are involved in seizures and thinking clearly are involved in your emotions. And so, with epilepsy we see a high rate double the incidents of depression and anxiety and triple the rate of suicide. And so it is an important thing to recognize that depression is something that is very common in people with epilepsy, that we don’t ignore it and that we treat it aggressively and often it requires an antidepressant. I will point out that a lot of people sort of don’t want to go on antidepressants or they fear them because if you look at the side effect of any antidepressant, it’ll say seizures as a potential side effect. And they sort of say, “Wait a minute, doc, I’ve got seizures. Why did you put me on a drug they can cause seizures?” And the answer is that by and large, most, but not all, most antidepressants are perfectly safe in people with epilepsy. It’s something that you should talk to your doctor about If you’re experiencing depression and very seriously consider being on an antidepressant.

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