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Connection between seizures and mental illness

I am a 43 year old female.  Married with children and work a full-time job.  My first "recorded" seizure happened about two years ago. Since then I've had 4+ tonic clonic seizures. I've also been diagosed with ADHD, chronic depression, & Bipolar Disorder. Since I've been reading & investigating these seizures, symptoms and warnings I'm noticing a lot of things that resemble the afore mentioned mental diagnosis.  Could it be that I've been misdiagnosed all along?  I'm still trying to make some kind of sense of everything I've been going through.  I should mention, I do not have any medical insurance and constant visits to the doctor's office isnt possible right now. Any input would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Saulter1861,

Epilepsy may be the cause of almost any symptom that matches any symptom of any mental disorder.

The "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM-IV, soon to be DSM-V), by the American Psychiatric Association (1994, 2000, 2013), lists a standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders by the matching of a required number of symptoms of each labeled mental disorder. When the patient has the required number of matching symptoms, the patient is labeled as having that disorder. The DSM-IV is often called "The Bible" of Psychiatry. The DSM-IV has safe-guards built in so very stupid decisions with patient labeling will be prevented, but the safe-guards don't work very well.

Psychological Testing is also frequently used to detect or measure symptoms of mental disorders. The testing usually uses the phrase "personality disorders" for the parts of "mental disorders." The Psychological Assessment test I have the most experience with from University studies is the "Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory" (MMPI). The full MMPI, now the MMPI-2, presently has 567 questions, with "yes" or "no" like responses to statements like "I almost never lose self-control," "The people I work with are not sympathetic with my problem," "I am afraid of losing my mind," etc. A previous version of the MMPI had a famously controversial question similiar to "I like red sports cars," which was used as a "weight point" towards labeling paranoia and schizophrenia.

The MMPI uses a "cookbook" to construct "standardized" interpretation reports that read like best-guess short-stories about the patient, based on the MMPI Validity and Clinical Scales (many other scales are often somewhat whimsically constructed for any special purpose at hand, such as the now popular Content Scales). Since the MMPI is so long, many shortened versions have been developed, and some hotly contested, since the shortened MMPI's are used for everything from hiring, parole, child custody, civil commitment, etc. Most other Psych Test are based upon, or imitates, the MMPI for statistical validation and objectivity determinations. Epilepsy, especially Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE), easily "fools" the MMPI (and hence, all tests similar, imitative, or statistically pooled with the MMPI).

Since the MMPI was constructed by Psychiatrists using their original diagnoses used to construct the questions and scales, the methods the Psychiatrists' use in making the original diagnoses probably suffer with the same flaws that allows epilepsy to "fool" them also into making erroneous diagnoses (i.e., if I design a test that delivers results that match my prejudices, the test's prejudices probably also reveal many of my prejudices).

TLE often "fools" the MMPI to return the "cookbook" results of strong paranoid schizophrenia, strong manic-depressive disorder (now labeled Bipolar disorder), major depression, and many high to moderate levels of other disorders. While many of these false results are recognized as being false, great controversy is involved with some of them, and whether the symptoms used in DSM's "bipolar," "depression," "somatization," etc. are the same, or only vaguely similar, to not even close, to being the psychological symptoms from the epilepsy, but definitely incorrectly labeled (paranoia and schizophrenia are usually easily rejected as being erroneous resultingly labeled, but not always if any other prejudices are also present).

While DSM labels are only based on carelessly determined symptoms, symptoms with epilepsy often have an identifiable cause which can be identified often with great validity and objectivity with EEGs, MRIs, surgeries, etc. Still, economics and limited resources result in many of the psychological/emotional aspects to be ignored by neurologists, or trampled upon by mental-health practitioners. Most of the fundamental emotional effects from epilepsy originate from the Limbic System. Organic based depression is probably from one side of the Limbic System, as the seizures of TLE demonstrates an example of this theory. Sometimes TLE seizures aggravates depression, while opposite sided TLE seizures often alleviates depression.

Even if epilepsy wasn't involved, I believe psychiatry is a dangerous mess. A book available with preview on, that addresses parts of the mess is "Toxic Psychiatry" by Peter R. Breggin (1991).

The forum here on "Ecstatic Seizures", discussion/985093, includes links to internet sites of the references (many near the bottom of the first page, today, on March 25, 2010).

The book "Distinguishing Psychological From Organic Disorder" by Robert L. Taylor has a section on Epilepsy that illustrates how tremendous of a problem Psychiatry's prejudices can be at times with epilepsy, a preview at:


Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It's always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained! I'm sure you had fun writing this article.





I was diagnosed with severe ADD, ODD, and LDs.  I also have Depression.  All this came before they figured out I actually have Epilepsy.

Since I recieved my Epilepsy diagnosis I am going to be reevaulated for ADD once my Epilepsy is under control (which its not) but my doctor seems fairly convinced I still have the ADD.  You really can have both, actually I think I have everything that results in you not being able to think clearly!  I know for certain Depression frequently accompanies Epilepsy.

Me: epilepsy, bipolar, add, excessive daytime sleepiness, and 60% lung capacity.  Ive tried countless antidepressants, several anticonvulsants and they were all like placebos.  I started taking Lamictal XR recently, and feel better than i have in YEARS.  Lamictal treats both seizures and mood disorders.  Look into it.

I agree totally with Tiadzos reply here. Psychiatrists are too quick to "label" people, particularly so in the USA, even when the clinical symptoms don't match their precious DSM criteria. It's incredible how many people are diagnosed bipolar (with our withyout E in the equation) and true ADD is not that common, it's just trendy to diagnose it. Many suggest that's alot due to the drug companies influence over doctors which I have to agree with.

I concede there is a big problem with sz activity causing psychiatric symptoms so inevitably people are going to get misdiagnosed.  And lets not forget that every AED on the market has reported and documented psych side effects and it's really bad luck if you get them. Depression is really common with ep, it's just about mandatory.

From my experience, neurologists and psychiatrists know nothing about the others dicipline and for some reason don't have to cover neuro or psych in their training. So if a neuro sees an E patient with psych symptoms it's easier to fob them off to a shrink. I suspect not too many neuros/shrinks even consider the symptoms MAY be the result of szs and/or AEDs, even when the psych symptom onset is clearly related to sz onset or starting an AED. This is completely irresponsible on the doctors part and I strongly believe it constitutes malpractice since the long term consequences of a psych label are not exactly good. 

It took me 19 years to get vindicated of a psych diagnosis and it's now fully acknowledged that the psych symptoms I had-and still have- are directly the result of my sz activity and probably the AEDs. 

The bigger problem is when shrinks start thowing drugs t the symptoms- a lot of psych drugs lower the sz threshold so are actually quite dangerous for us, ie antipsychotics, SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants. Obviously some people do need psych meds and find them useful. But if the symptoms are a direct result of the meds or szs, then the meds have to be reviewd and maybe changed, and an attempt made to get the best sz control possible, BEFORE handing out psych labels and drugs like lollies which happens way too much.

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