Comparison of psychiatric comorbidities and impact on quality of life in patients with epilepsy or psychogenic nonepileptic spells

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20 Scopus citations


Objectives: Psychiatric comorbidity is common in people with epilepsy (PWE) and psychogenic nonepileptic spells (PNES). These comorbidities can be detrimental to quality of life (QOL) and are often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Some types of epilepsy, such as focal temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), have been associated with higher rates of psychiatric comorbidity. This study examined the impact of psychiatric comorbidity on QOL in patients admitted to two level 4 epilepsy monitoring units (EMUs). Methods: In this prospective observational study, 200 patients admitted to two level 4 EMUs completed standardized surveys including the Quality of Life in Epilepsy (QOLIE-31-P), Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7), Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), and Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). Hierarchal multiple regression was performed to assess impact on QOL. Results: Of the 200 participants, 113 had a diagnosis of epilepsy, 36 had a diagnosis of PNES, and 51 were excluded for nondiagnostic evaluation or dual diagnosis. Of those with epilepsy, 65 had TLE, 28 had focal extratemporal lobe epilepsy (ETLE), and 20 had nonfocal epilepsy. Patients with PNES had higher self-reported anxiety and depression levels (GAD-7: p = 0.04, PHQ-9: p < 0.01; BDI-II: p < 0.01) but similar QOL to PWE (p = 0.78). Using hierarchal multiple regression, symptoms of anxiety and depression were significant predictors of lower QOL in PWE but not in patients with PNES. There was no difference in QOL in those with ETLE and TLE. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that self-reported anxiety and depression symptoms are common in patients admitted to level 4 EMUs regardless of diagnosis and play an important role in predicting QOL in PWE. Our findings emphasize the importance of routinely screening all EMU patients for psychiatric comorbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106649
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Epilepsy
  • Focal epilepsy
  • Psychogenic nonepileptic spells (PNES)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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