Psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis are more common among persons with epilepsy than among the general population. Therefore, psychiatrists who help manage these problems can play a very significant role in the treatment of persons with epilepsy.

Why are psychiatric problems common in persons with epilepsy?

Some of the same biological processes involved in epilepsy can also cause psychiatric problems. A common problem is depression, which also can be produced by some medications used to control seizures (especially barbiturates). Social factors often associated with epilepsy, such as loss of employment or difficulty with relationships, also can contribute to problems such as depression. Another common problem is anxiety.

How do psychiatrists treat psychiatric problems?

The psychiatrist can help to identify the problem, determine its cause, and recommend treatment. In some cases, for example, relief from the depression is obtained by adjusting seizure medicines, adding an antidepressant medication, or counseling the patient about social and medical problems.


Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter, MD
Reviewed By: 
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Wednesday, March 19, 2014