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Epilepsia. 2001 May;42(5):674-81.

Association of fear auras with mood and anxiety disorders after temporal lobectomy.

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Neuropsychiatry Section, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-4283, USA.



Epilepsy has been associated with increased occurrence of behavioral disorders. Auras reflect abnormal stimulation of brain areas in close proximity to regions from which clinical seizures originate. The purpose of our study was to investigate whether fear auras are associated with a higher rate of mood and anxiety disorders before and 1 year after temporal lobectomy.


Twenty-two patients with fear auras were compared with matched groups with other auras and no auras. Neurologic and neuropsychological evaluations before, 1-2 months after, and 1 year after temporal lobectomy were reviewed for mood and anxiety disorders and psychotropic medication treatment. A logistic regression model examined effects of patient group and psychiatric status on postoperative psychiatric status.


The majority of patients in the three groups experienced mood and anxiety disorders before surgery. Mood and anxiety disorders declined in the control, but not in the fear aura group after surgery. Presence of auras at 1 year after surgery was not related to psychiatric outcome. Postoperative mood and anxiety disorders were more common in patients with persistence of seizures and in those in the fear group who were seizure free. The minority of patients in all groups underwent psychotropic treatment before surgery, but the majority with fear auras underwent treatment after surgery.


Postoperative mood and anxiety disorders were more common in fear aura patients after temporal lobectomy, in particular, if seizure free. Possible mechanisms include the role of the amygdala in fear conditioning, the concepts of forced normalization, and kindling.

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