Schizophrenia and Epilepsy — The Connection | September 20, 2013
There’s always been a suspicion of the possible ties between epilepsy and schizophrenia.
But now, research has shown that schizophrenia and epilepsy are linked in both directions.
Previous studies had suggested a prevalence of schizophrenia and psychosis among epilepsy patients.
An early Danish study of more than 2 million people concluded, there’s a “strong association” between epilepsy and schizophrenia.
People with epilepsy had about 2.5 times the risk of schizophrenia as the general population, reported researchers.
Yet that’s “fairly low,” says Charles Raison, MD. Former consulting psychiatrist for the epilepsy service at the University
of California at Los Angeles.
“Most people with epilepsy probably aren’t in danger of schizophrenia, he says.”
He said that the schizophrenia risk is very small — about 1%, in general.
But even with the higher risk cited in the study,people with epilepsy still have only a 2-3 in 100 chance of developing schizophrenia.
“That’s of some concern,” says Raison: but you can get a large increase in risk [and] if the risk is small, you’re still very safe.”
Yet there was the psychosis factor, too.
He questioned when to call chronic psychotic conditions schizophrenia.
The findings “probably reflect an underlying link, physiologically.
There may be abnormalities in the ways neurons are wired together.”
Those problems may develop early in life and manifest later on, usually in early adulthood.
In another previous study from Johns Hopkins, entitled “Schizophrenia and Epilepsy: Is There a Shared Susceptibility?” the authors suggested that “genes implicated in neuro-development may play a common role in both conditions.”
Now, in a breakthrough study, researchers in Taiwan say this could be due to genetic, neurobiological or environmental factors.
Research results showed a strong bidirectional relation between schizophrenia and epilepsy.
Dr Manny Bagary, consultant neuropsychiatrist in Birmingham, said “We have been aware that epilepsy sufferers seem to have an increased risk of psychosis but this is the first convincing study to suggest that people with schizophrenia could also be at risk of developing epilepsy, suggesting a bidirectional relationship has been found between depression and epilepsy”.
The link was confirmed when the Taiwan researchers found study participants with epilepsy were nearly 8 times more likely to develop schizophrenia, and those with schizophrenia were nearly 6 times more likely to develop epilepsy.
There was a slightly higher rate of schizophrenia in men with epilepsy than in women.
“Our research results show a strong bidirectional relation between schizophrenia and epilepsy,” said lead author I-Ching Chou, M.D., with China Medical University Hospital and Associate Professor with China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan.
“This relationship may be due to common pathogenesis in these diseases such as genetic susceptibility and environmental factors, but further investigation of the pathological mechanisms are needed.”
Dr Manny Bagary, consultant neuropsychiatrist in Birmingham, said:“We have been aware that epilepsy sufferers seem to have an increased risk of psychosis but this is the first convincing study to suggest that people with schizophrenia could also be at risk of developing epilepsy, suggesting a bidirectional relationship has been found between depression and epilepsy”.
Future research will be focused on when to consider chronic psychotic conditions schizophrenia and their role in epilepsy.
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Posted in * Need to know
Tags: environmental factors
, genetic susceptibility