September 27, 2021

Sex Differences in Seizure Effects on Social Anxiety in Persons with Epilepsy

Abstract, originally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Purpose: We investigated sex differences in the effect of seizures on social anxiety in persons with epilepsy.

Method: In this cross-sectional multicenter study, social anxiety was measured using the short forms of the Social Phobia Scale (SPS-6) and Social Interaction Anxiety Scale (SIAS-6). SPS-6 scores ? 9 and SIAS-6 scores ? 12 were considered to indicate social phobia and social interaction anxiety, respectively. The Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Stigma Scale-Revised, and Family Adaptation-Partnership-Growth-Affection-Resolve scale were also completed. A logistic regression analysis with an interaction term was used to analyze the data.

Results: Out of 285 participants, a SPS-6 score ? 9 and a SIAS-6 score ? 12 were noted in 62 (21.8%) and 36 (12.6%) of participants, respectively. There was no difference in the prevalence of social anxiety between men and women. Intractable seizures and lack of seizure freedom were associated with a SPS-6 score ? 9 and a SIAS-6 score ? 12, but statistical significance was lost in the adjusted models. However, intractable seizures and lack of seizure freedom significantly interacted with sex for a SPS-6 score ? 9 (p = 0.018) and a SIAS-6 score ? 12 (p = 0.048) in both the separate and adjusted models. Specifically, intractable seizures tended to be positively associated with SPS-6 scores ? 9 than non-intractable seizures in men only (odds ratio = 2.602, p = 0.068), whereas lack of seizure freedom tended to be negatively associated with SIAS-6 scores ? 12 than seizure freedom in women only (odds ratio = 4.804, p = 0.053).

Conclusion: We found significant sex differences in seizure effects on social anxiety. Intractable seizures were associated with social phobia in men, whereas lack of seizure freedom in the last year was associated with social interaction anxiety in women.

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