From the Journals

Strong two-way link between epilepsy and depression



Clinical implications

Reached for comment, Zulfi Haneef, MBBS, MD, associate professor of neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, noted that the link between epilepsy and depression is “well-known.”

“However, typically one thinks of epilepsy as leading to depression, not vice versa. Here they show the risk of epilepsy following depression to be high (highest of the risks given), which is thought provoking. However, association does not imply causation,” Dr. Haneef said.

“Prima facie, there is no biological rationale for depression to lead to epilepsy,” he said. He noted that some antidepressants can reduce the seizure threshold.

The findings do have implications for care, he said.

“For neurologists, this is another study that exhorts them to screen for depression and treat adequately in all patients with epilepsy,” Dr. Haneef said.

“For psychiatrists, this study may give guidance to watch more carefully for seizures in patients with depression, especially when using antidepressant medications that induce seizures.

“For the general public with either epilepsy or depression, it would help them be aware about this bidirectional association,” Dr. Haneef said.

The study was funded by the Lundbeck Foundation, the Danish Epilepsy Association, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation. Ms. Bølling-Ladegaard and Dr. Haneef have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article first appeared on


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