One-fifth of adult epilepsy patients ‘also have ADHD symptoms’

Posted Jan 19 2015 in Conditions related to epilepsy

New research from the US has highlighted the elevated likelihood of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among adult epilepsy patients.

Led by Dr Alan Ettinger, director of the Epilepsy Center at Neurological Surgery, PC and professor of clinical neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the study saw a national sample of adults with epilepsy in the US filling out a survey to assess the prevalence of ADHD in this patient group.

According to results published in the medical journal Epilepsia, a total of 1,361 people took part in the survey, with 18.4 per cent of them classified as experiencing significant ADHD symptoms. This is around four times higher than the 4.4 per cent rate of ADHD diagnosis in the general adult population.

This marks the first time ADHD symptoms in adults with epilepsy have been described in scientific literature and highlights an area in which the mental health needs of epilepsy patients may not have been properly addressed.

Previous studies have shown that people with ADHD symptoms are nine times more likely to experience depression and eight times more likely to have anxiety symptoms, as well as being significantly less likely to be employed.

Given the impact of such symptoms on patients’ quality of life, mood, anxiety and functioning, this could be an important discovery. Currently, the depression, anxiety, reduced quality of life and psychosocial outcomes experienced by epilepsy patients are attributed to the effects of seizures, antiepileptic drugs and underlying central nervous system conditions, but the new research suggests ADHD may also be playing a role.

Dr Ettinger said: “This study reinforces the fact that we have to broaden our view of what epilepsy entails. Our patients may also have psychiatric comorbidities, and screening for and treating these may make a great difference to patients in their family, school and work lives.”

Common symptoms of ADHD include a short attention span, being easily distracted, restlessness, constant fidgeting, overactivity and impulsiveness. It is the most common behavioural disorder in the UK.

Posted by Steve Long

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