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ADHD symptoms in adults with epilepsy

10 Feb 2015

A new US study has explored the link between epilepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Findings suggest that almost a fifth of adults with epilepsy display symptoms of ADHD

The study was conducted in New York, led by Dr Allen Ettinger. His team sent out a postal survey to a national cross-section of people with active seizures. Of those, 1,361 responded. Their responses were then analysed with a variety of tools to give them study findings. These findings were then published in an online edition of the medical journal Epilepsia on 15 January.

Findings suggest that over 18 per cent of adults with epilepsy experience symptoms of ADHD. These symptoms include things like having a short attention span or finding it difficult to sit still.

ADHDFindings also showed that having ADHD symptoms was associated with poorer psychological health. People with epilepsy and symptoms of ADHD were eight times more likely to have symptoms of anxiety. They were also nine times more likely to experience depression.

What isn’t clear from this study is whether ADHD in epilepsy is the same as that experienced in the general population. If it is, there are effective treatments available.

Dr Ettinger said in a press release: “This study reinforces the fact that we have to broaden our view of what epilepsy entails. Our patients may also have psychiatric comorbidities… Screening for and treating these may make a great difference to patients.

“As a next step, we need to validate measures to screen for ADHD specifically in epilepsy and clarify the nature of ADHD symptoms in adults with epilepsy.”

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