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Epilepsy Behav. 2004 Dec;5(6):988-94.

Which factors may play a pivotal role on determining the type of psychiatric disorder in children and adolescents with epilepsy?

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  • 1Laboratory of Clinical Neurophysiology, Institute and Department of Psychiatry, Clinic's Hospital University of São Paulo Medical School, São Paulo, Brazil.


Physicians have become aware of the high prevalence of psychiatric disorders (PDs) in children and adolescents with epilepsy; however, there are many controversies as to which factors may have an important role in the different types of PD. This study was designed to assess the main PD; verify the age of onset compared with the age of diagnosis of the PD; and determine which factors may be correlated with the type of PD described. For this purpose, a multidisciplinary team evaluated children and adolescents (4-18 years) with epilepsy and analyzed patient-related factors such as age (grouped according to Piaget's cognitive scale: <6 years, 7-13 years, >13 years), sex, family history of PDs, and cognitive status. With respect to epilepsy features, we considered age of onset, duration, seizure control at the time of psychiatric evaluation, refractoriness, antiepileptic drugs (mono- vs polytherapy), seizure type (generalized vs focal), and epilepsy type (idiopathic vs symptomatic/probably symptomatic). Depression occurred in 36.4% and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in 29.1%, these being the most frequent PDs in this series. Focal epilepsy was significantly more frequent in children and adolescents with PDs. As to the type of PD, age was an important factor, with a predominance of ADHD in children and depression in adolescents (P<0.0001). Family history was contributory for depression, but not for others PDs (P<0.0001). Depression remained underdiagnosed and untreated for a longer period. Impact of early diagnosis and treatment remains unknown.

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