Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Researchers identify brain differences linked to epilepsy-associated anxiety

According to results published in the medical journal Epilepsia, patients with epilepsy and anxiety were generally found to have larger volumes in the left amygdala – an almond-shaped mass of nuclei within the temporal lobe of the brain – than those without anxiety.

When cortical thickness was analysed, it was also revealed that thinning in the left medial orbitofrontal, right lateral orbitofrontal and right frontal poles could all be observed in those with anxiety.

Although there were no differences between groups in terms of age, sex, IQ, age of onset, medications or duration of epilepsy, family background was shown to be an influencing factor. Those in the epilepsy with anxiety group generally had more family members with a history of anxiety disorders.

The researchers concluded: “These findings are evident early in the course of epilepsy, are not related to chronicity of seizures, and may be linked to a family history of anxiety and depressive disorders.”

Findings such as this could aid future treatment and diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder, which affects around one in 25 people in the UK. Since epilepsy patients are often particularly susceptible to mental health issues, this will be seen as a positive step.


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