By On January 16th, 2015

Study Links Adult Epilepsy With Increased Risk of ADHD

A new study published in the journal Epilepsia provides evidence of a need for improved screening for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in individuals with epilepsy, as nearly one in five adults diagnosed with epilepsy exhibits symptoms of the attention disorder.

By surveying nearly 1,400 adults diagnosed with epilepsy across the United States, the researchers saw more than 18 percent showed significant ADHD symptoms. This is notably higher 4 percent of American adults diagnosed with ADHD in the general population.

When compared to those who did not exhibit ADHD symptoms, the researchers also saw those with ADHD symptoms were nine times more likely to experience depression, eight times more likely to experience anxiety symptoms, suffered more seizures, and were much more likely to be unemployed.

“Little was previously known about the prevalence of ADHD symptoms in adults with epilepsy, and the results were quite striking,” study leader Dr. Alan Ettinger, director of the epilepsy center at Neurological Surgery, P.C. (NSPC) in Rockville Centre, N.Y., said in an NSPC news release.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time ADHD symptoms in adults with epilepsy have been described in the scientific literature. Yet, the presence of these symptoms may have severe implications for patients’ quality of life, mood, anxiety, and functioning in both their social and work lives,” he added.

The findings indicate medical professionals need to expand the scope of treatment for epilepsy patients to include mental health screenings and therapy.

“Physicians who treat epilepsy often attribute depression, anxiety, reduced quality of life and psychosocial outcomes to the effects of seizures, antiepileptic therapies and underlying central nervous system conditions. Our findings suggest that ADHD may also be playing a significant role,” said Ettinger, who is also a professor of clinical neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Ettinger concluded “as a next step, we need to validate measures to screen for ADHD specifically in epilepsy and clarify the nature of ADHD symptoms in adults with epilepsy. This will lay the foundation for future trials of treatments that offer the promise of rendering major improvements in the quality of life of adult epilepsy patients.”

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