March 11, 2021

Absence Seizures and Their Relationship to Depression and Anxiety: Evidence for Bidirectionality

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsia

Absence seizures (AS), presenting as short losses of consciousness with staring spells, are a common manifestation of childhood epilepsy that is associated with behavioral, emotional, and social impairments. It has also been suggested that patients with AS are more likely to suffer from mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. This systematic review and meta?analysis synthesizes human and animal models that investigated mood disorders and AS. Of the 1019 scientific publications identified, 35 articles met the inclusion criteria for this review.

We found that patients with AS had greater odds of developing depression and anxiety when compared to controls (odds ratio = 4.93, 95% confidence interval = 2.91–8.35, p < .01). The included studies further suggest a strong correlation between AS and depression and anxiety in the form of a bidirectional relationship. The current literature emphasizes that these conditions likely share underlying mechanisms, such as genetic predisposition, neurophysiology, and anatomical pathways. Further research will clarify this relationship and ensure more effective treatment for AS and mood disorders.

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