February 8, 2023

Veterans With Drug-Resistant Epilepsy Show High Prevalence of Psychiatric Burden 

Article published by AJMC

Prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity, emergency care usage, and inpatient psychiatric admissions were shown to be substantial among veterans with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE), with women especially affected. Results were published in Epilepsy & Behavior.

Psychiatric conditions are prevalent in patients with epilepsy, in part due to shared risk factors, physiological mechanisms, and bidirectional influences, in which those with drug-resistant disease are at particular risk.

Researchers noted that prior studies examining veterans with epilepsy suggest this population may present with unique psychiatric and clinical features, with implications for quality of life and service utilization. However, there remains a paucity of literature assessing risk of psychiatric dysfunction in veterans with DRE.

To expand the clinical understanding of veterans with DRE, they conducted a comprehensive retrospective analysis of a Veterans Health Administration (VHA)–wide sample, describing psychiatric conditions, medications, and health care utilization. Four aims were explored for the analysis: Quantify the prevalence of various psychiatric disorders, Examine trends in psychiatric medication use, Assess the hospital and emergency department (ED) utilization trends for psychiatric conditions, Compare these variables between the present DRE sample and established epilepsy literature.

“A substantial psychiatric burden exists among veterans with DRE,” concluded the study authors. “Considering the relationship of psychiatric comorbidities in epilepsy with psychosocial functioning and quality of life, our findings highlight the need for screening and provision of services for those with DRE.”