Department of Neurology III, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, St Thomas’ Hospital, Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and Epilepsies, London, UK
Anxiety in epilepsy has recently become a focus of interest for a number of reasons. Epidemiological studies have established that anxiety disorders are twice as common in patients with epilepsy compared to the general population, while in referral centres their prevalence is even higher. In addition, it has been recently appreciated that anxiety exerts a significant negative impact on the quality of life of patients with epilepsy of any age. With regard to the pathogenesis of anxiety in epilepsy, a number of theories have been put forward including those based on psychodynamics, learning-cognition, and neurobiology. From a clinical point of view, anxiety may occur as a comorbid disorder with epilepsy or be directly linked with epilepsy as a preictal, ictal, postictal or interictal phenomenon. The treatment of anxiety in patients with epilepsy requires a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, clinical assessment. Regarding pharmacological therapies, it should be recognised that some drugs prescribed for anxiety disorders are associated with a high risk of seizures, whereas some antiepileptic drugs possess anxiolytic properties that could be of use in the management of epileptic patients with anxiety. The correct diagnosis and successful treatment of anxiety is expected to have significant benefits for the quality of life of epileptic patients.