Major Depression is a Risk Factor for Seizures in Older Adults

ROCHESTER, MINN. — Mayo Clinic researchers have uncovered a clear link between an episode of major depression and seizures later in life.

The researchers examined Mayo Clinic’s patient records to identify people who had a first-time seizure after age 55. They eliminated from this list anyone with a known risk factor for seizures, such as a previous stroke, brain injury or brain infection. When they compared these new seizure patients with a similar group of normal people, the most striking finding was a six times greater incidence of a prior episode of major depression.

“Based on this research, major depression should be added to the list of risk factors for seizures in older adults,” says Gregory Cascino, M.D., a Mayo Clinic neurologist and one of the study authors.

“This new finding is significant for two reasons. One, major depression is quite common and two, older adults represent the most rapidly growing group of patients with seizure disorders.

“We don’t know the reason for this link, but it does not appear to be related to the treatment used in the management of depression,” says Dr. Cascino.

The study was reported in the Annals of Neurology.

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