Psychiatric comorbidities are close to 5-times higher in children and youth with epilepsy (CYE) compared to general population. With epilepsy being one of the most common neurological disorders in children, we provide a timely review of psychiatric issues in CYE.
A meta-analysis found a pooled prevalence of anxiety in 18.9% and depression in 13.5% of CYE. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is 2.5 to 5.5 times higher in CYE compared to healthy counterparts. Recent evidence highlights that behavioral adverse effects may lead to discontinuation of anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) in more than 10% of CYE. Up to 70% CYE shows elevation in baseline psychological symptoms after AED initiation. Identifying psychiatric symptoms can be easily accomplished by the routine use of psychiatric screening instruments in CYE clinics, which is associated with improved health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Psychoeducation is a key component for any visit with CYE. There is some evidence of the effectiveness of behavioral psychological interventions for CYE. There are no therapeutic trials of psychotropics in CYE, but treatment recommendations based on the experience in adults with epilepsy and general population are applicable. Early diagnosis and management of psychiatric comorbidities leads to improvement in HRQOL of CYE. This requires routine screening and a multidisciplinary teamwork.