Stress associated with an increased risk of recurrent seizures in adults.

Posted Apr 20 2017 in Living with epilepsy

Researchers at Columbia University in New York have conducted research which shows an association between stress and an increase in recurrent seizures in adults.  Recognising that there is a limited amount of research on the relationship between epilepsy and stressors, depression and anxiety disorders the researchers wanted to see if such a link existed.

The researchers recruited patients from a low income community in New York who had either newly diagnosed epilepsy or a single unprovoked seizure.  The researchers then collected information about a number of measures of stress including environmental stress, stressful life events, psychiatric disorders and the cumulative effect of adapting to stress.

The 81 patients were then monitored for 2 years.  Almost 40% of those patients who had had an unprovoked seizure (52 patients in this group) had a further recurrence.  In the newly diagnosed epilepsy patients (29 patients in this group) almost 70% had a recurrence.

In all patients, the risk of recurrence was increased 3 fold for those with lifetime generalised anxiety disorder and 2 fold for those with lifetime mood disorder.

While a small study the researchers state that in addition to other treatment, the use of low cost stress reducing interventions such as mindfulness may be a useful addition for individuals with recognised stress disorders.

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