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Keywords:

  • Psychopathology;
  • Mental health treatment;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Child

Summary:  Purpose: This study examined the relation between psychiatric diagnosis and mental health services in children with epilepsy and the associated demographic, cognitive, linguistic, behavioral, and seizure-related variables.

Methods: The Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia (K-SADS), the Child Behavior Checklist, the Test of Language Development, and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children–Revised (WISC-R) were administered to 114 children, aged 5 to 16 years, with either complex partial seizures (CPS) or primary generalized with absence (PGE, petit mal). A Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) diagnosis and information regarding mental health services were derived from the K-SADS.

Results: Although ∼60% of the subjects had a DSM-IV psychiatric diagnosis, >60% received no mental health treatment. Absence of mental health care was associated with younger age, less parental education, limited number of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs; i.e., one or none), and higher verbal IQ. In addition, children with PGE and a single psychiatric diagnosis were less likely to have a history of mental health treatment.

Conclusions: This is the first study to demonstrate unmet mental health need in a large sample of children with CPS and PGE. The study's findings suggest that parents and clinicians should be aware of the mental health needs of children with epilepsy, particularly if they have one or more of the identified risk factors.