Previous Findings on Epilepsy, Psych Comorbidities Confirmed

Article excerpt

CHICAGO -- A past psychiatric history, depressive disorder diagnosis, and current use of psychotropic medications were significantly associated with a higher potential for suicidal behavior.

"Suicide risk in patients with epilepsy reflects the higher incidence of psychiatric comorbidity in this population rather than any neurologic or demographic factor," reported Robert C. Doss, Psy.D., and Dr. Patricia E. Penovich, of the Minnesota Epilepsy Group in St. Paul. This finding confirms what has been established in previous research.

About 30% of people with epilepsy have a major depressive disorder, and research suggests that about 50% of the time they are never treated for the problem, according to the Epilepsy Foundation.

Moreover, the suicide rate in persons with epilepsy is on average 12%, compared with about 1% in the general population (Epilepsy Behav. 2003;4:[Suppl. 3]S31-8). Given the prevalence of this problem and the 2008 warning by the Food and Drug Administration regarding the association between suicidality and antiepileptic drugs, further understanding of this matter is urgently needed, Dr. Doss and Dr. Penovich reported in a poster at the conference.

Upon admission, the 58 patients in the sample underwent long-term video-EEG, neuropsychological testing, personality assessment using the Personality Assessment Inventory, social work evaluation, and if indicated, psychology and/or psychiatry consultation.

Ten patients (mean age, 36 years) showed clinical elevations on the inventory's Suicide Potential Index (SPI) and 48 patients (mean age, 38 years) did not. The SPI consists of 20 features on the inventory that tap what are described as key risk factors for completed suicide in the suicidality literature.

Patients with a positive SPI were significantly more likely than were those with a negative SPI to have a depressive disorder diagnosis (80% vs. 19%, respectively), to have a previous psychiatric history (90% vs. …