With a prevalence rate of 1% in the general population, epilepsy affects 4 of 1,000 children (Hauser and Hesdorffer 1990). It is one of the most common childhood neurological disorders. Although 5% of children experience a seizure episode before age 20 years, only one-fourth of these will go on to develop a seizure disorder (Franks 2003). Like other chronic illnesses, epilepsy impacts the social, cognitive, and emotional development of children and adolescents.

Depression and other mood disorders have been observed in youngsters with seizure disorders at a rate much higher than in the general population. Studies suggest that as many as 12%-26% of children with epilepsy have some type of mood disorder (Caplan et al. 1998; Davies et al. 2003; Weisbrot and Ettinger 2001). Understanding the behavioral effects of epilepsy is complicated by several factors: 1) it is a disease of the central nervous system; 2) antiepileptic medications can contribute to behavioral symptoms; and 3) complex individual, family, and social factors, including the stigma that can be associated with epilepsy, can increase the risk for poor adjustment to illness for a child or adolescent.

In a well-designed study, Caplan et al. (2005) examined the prevalence of depression and anxiety in pediatric epilepsy. Using structured psychiatric assessments, these authors studied 171 children ages 5-16 years with epilepsy and 93 matched controls. Over 32% of the children with epilepsy had affective and anxiety disorders, compared with 6% of the controls. Depression as a single diagnosis occurred in only 5.2% of the children; however, 26% of the patients with depression had comorbid anxiety and disruptive disorders. Caplan et al. further discovered that 20% of the children with psychiatric diagnosis had suicidal ideation, with 3 7% of the ideators having a plan, whereas 9% of children in the control group had suicidal ideation. Trends for higher rates of anxiety disorders among younger children and depressive disorders among older children were also found in this study. The overall findings suggest high rates of anxiety and disruptive disorders in pe-diatric patients with epilepsy, in contrast to high rates of depression and anxiety in adult patients with epilepsy (Baker et al. 1996), suggesting that the distribution of psychiatric disorders may differ in pediatric and adult populations. Among those youngsters with co-occurring epilepsy and depression, risk factors appear to include negative attitudes toward their illness, dissatisfaction with family relationships, loss-of-control feelings, family or personal history of depression, parent and family depression in response to diagnosis of the illness, and use of depression-inducing antiepileptic medications (e.g., phenobarbital) (Franks 2003; Weisbrot and Ettinger 2001).

Do Not Panic

Do Not Panic

This guide Don't Panic has tips and additional information on what you should do when you are experiencing an anxiety or panic attack. With so much going on in the world today with taking care of your family, working full time, dealing with office politics and other things, you could experience a serious meltdown. All of these things could at one point cause you to stress out and snap.

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