Diagnosis and management of depression and psychosis in children and adolescents with epilepsy

Andres M. Kanner, David W. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The neurologic dysfunction underlying epilepsy can predispose patients to psychiatric disorders, and the incidence of both depression and psychosis is increased in people with epilepsy. Depressive disorders are the most frequently recognized psychiatric comorbidities in people with epilepsy, but depression in children can be particularly difficult to recognize. Clinicians need to inquire about not only classic symptoms of depression such as anhedonia but also less obvious symptoms such as unprovoked irritability, unsubstantiated complaints of lack of love from family members, somatic complaints, and problems with concentration and poor school performance. The diagnosis of depressive disorders in children with epilepsy and mental retardation is even more difficult. Physicians need to be alert for the presence of iatrogenic depression, which may result from antiepileptic drugs or epilepsy surgery. People with epilepsy are also at increased risk for psychosis, which can be interictal, postictal, or (rarely) an expression of ictal activity. This psychosis can be related to seizure remission (ie, alternative psychosis) or iatrogenic (eg, related to antiepileptic drugs or following temporal lobectomy). Although both antidepressants and antipsychotic drugs have the potential to lower the seizure threshold and increase seizures, careful drug selection, dosing, and slow titration can minimize this risk, allowing treatment to proceed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S65-S72
JournalJournal of child neurology
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Aug 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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