Summary: Purpose: This study examined affective disorders, anxiety disorders, and suicidality in children with epilepsy and their association with seizure-related, cognitive, linguistic, family history, social competence, and demographic variables.
Methods: A structured psychiatric interview, mood self-report scales, as well as cognitive and language testing were administered to 100 children with complex partial seizures (CPSs), 71 children with childhood absence epilepsy (CAE), and 93 normal children, aged 5 to 16 years. Parents provided behavioral information on each child through a structured psychiatric interview and behavior checklist.
Results: Significantly more patients had affective and anxiety disorder diagnoses (33%) as well as suicidal ideation (20%) than did the normal group, but none had made a suicide attempt. Anxiety disorder was the most frequent diagnosis among the patients with a diagnosis of affective or anxiety disorders, and combined affective/anxiety and disruptive disorder diagnoses, in those with suicidal ideation. Only 33% received some form of mental health service. Age, verbal IQ, school problems, and seizure type were related to the presence of a diagnosis of affective or anxiety disorder, and duration of illness, to suicidal ideation.
Conclusions: These findings together with the high rate of unmet mental health underscore the importance of early detection and treatment of anxiety disorders and suicidal ideation children with CPSs and CAE.