Links between Depression, Suicide, and Epilepsy -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

"For reasons that are not understood, depression both increases the risk for developing epilepsy and is also common among people with epilepsy who experience many seizures," said Dale C. Hesdorffer, Ph.D., of the Gertrude Sergievsky Center at Columbia University.

It has commonly been assumed that the difficulties associated with living with epilepsy could provoke depression, and in some cases, an increased risk of suicide, the authors write. But is harder to explain the opposite findings: that people who develop depression have a higher risk of later experiencing a first seizure.

In a new study, researchers attempted to define the relationship between depression, suicide, and epilepsy. Hesdorffer and colleagues compared data for both epilepsy and depression in 324 people with epilepsy and 647 control subjects. It was found that a history of depression increased the risk of epilepsy. But the startling finding was that people with epilepsy were 4 times more likely to have attempted suicide before ever having a seizure.

The individual presence of other symptoms of depression, whether common like depressed mood or more rare like weight change, did not predict a greater likelihood of later seizures. While this finding clearly suggests common underlying brain mechanisms for suicidal behavior and epilepsy, the results also suggest that depression and suicidal behavior may be related to different mechanisms.

"Increasingly, clinicians treating people with epilepsy ask about current depression, but they may not ask about past suicide attempt or suicidal thoughts," said Hesdorffer. "Our results may alert clinicians to the need to ask this question and offer any needed counselling to prevent the occurrence of later completed suicide."; Source: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.