Memory complaints in patients with epilepsy have been well-studied. Although memory complaints are commonly reported by patients with chronic epilepsy, to date, few studies exist on memory complaints at the onset of epilepsy. The present study investigated the presence of memory complaints and their relation to mood and memory performance in patients after their first seizure. Thereby, we examined differences between individuals who received a diagnosis of epilepsy immediately with the occurrence of their first seizure and those who were diagnosed as having the first epileptic seizure, without fulfilling the ILAE criteria for the diagnosis of epilepsy.
Sixty-one patients participated in the study and completed, among others, a memory task and questionnaires on memory complaints and depression after their first epileptic seizure. We investigated the level of memory complaints and their correlation and accuracy in classification with a memory measure. We compared patients who received an epilepsy diagnosis after the first seizure with those who did not.
Memory complaints did not correlate with objective memory performance. Classification into impaired/unimpaired showed low concordance between memory complaints and neuropsychological memory measures. After their first epileptic seizure, patients reported few memory complaints overall (10%), and there were no differences in memory complaints between patients with and without an epilepsy diagnosis.
At epilepsy onset, in contrast to established epilepsies, memory complaints are rare. Although influences of anticonvulsant drugs and seizures are not present at the beginning of epilepsy, this substantial absence of memory complaints at epilepsy onset emphasizes the need for comprehensive neurological and psychological treatment early with the given diagnosis. Treatment should focus on anticonvulsant drug regimens, patients’ concerns and convey realistic expectations.

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