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Rutgers Reports: Epileptic Seizures and Depression May Share a Common Genetic Cause, Study Suggests

Psychological reaction to epilepsy. Social factors (lost driver’s license, job, loss of control) Secondary medication effects (eg. polypharmacy, high doses, sudden discontinuation) Left temporal or frontal lobe epilepsy exhibits a greater association to depression.
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From the time of Hippocrates, physicians have suspected a link between epilepsy and depression. Now, for the first time, scientists at Rutgers University–New Brunswick and Columbia University have found evidence that seizures and mood disorders such as depression may share the same genetic cause in some people with epilepsy, which may lead to better screening and treatment to improve patients’ quality of life.

The scientists studied dozens of unusual families with multiple relatives who had epilepsy, and compared the family members’ lifetime prevalence of mood disorders with that of the U.S. population.

They found an increased incidence of mood disorders in persons who suffer from a type of the condition called focal epilepsy, in which seizures begin in just one part of the brain. But mood disorders were not increased in people with generalized epilepsy, in which seizures start on both sides of the brain.

“Mood disorders such as depression are under-recognized and undertreated in people with epilepsy,” said Gary A. Heiman, the study’s senior author and associate professor in the Department of Genetics at Rutgers–New Brunswick. “Clinicians need to screen for mood disorders in people with epilepsy, particularly focal epilepsy, and clinicians should treat the depression in addition to the epilepsy. That will improve patients’ quality of life.”

The results of the study – published online today in the journal Epilepsia – support the hypothesis that people with focal epilepsy, but not generalized epilepsy, are susceptible to mood disorders such as depression.

Here’s a link to the study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/epi.13985/full

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