Potential Link Found with Epilepsy and Schizophrenia

New research identifies similar characteristics of cell patterns within the brains of people who have epilepsy and those with schizophrenia. The study, conducted by researchers from Beaumont Hospital, Dublin and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), was the first to examine the types of psychiatric disorders that people with epilepsy are at risk for developing. The findings have provided information that could eventually offer hope for new treatment regimens for both of the illnesses. In the past, research has proven that there is a high rate of psychiatric illness in people who have epilepsy. In particular, temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is associated with elevated psychosis rates. There has been little evidence that could provide information about those associations until now.

The study examined the white and grey matter in the brain regions of both classes of test subjects. The findings showed that there was a decreased density of cells in the people who suffered from both psychosis and TLE that was very similar to the subjects who had schizophrenia. One of the researchers, Dr. Frederick Sundram, Senior Registrar and Honorary Lecturer in Psychiatry at RCSI, commented on the findings. “This research gives new insights into the overlap between physical and psychiatric disorders such as epilepsy and schizophrenia respectively. In future, this may inform on potential treatments for psychiatric disorders associated with temporal lobe epilepsy as well as schizophrenia that affects over 10,000 people in Ireland. Our findings show that there is a low density of cells in TLE related psychosis that resembles schizophrenia. Patients with these conditions may benefit in future from treatments that target these abnormal brain regions.”

This research could possibly lead to more in depth studies examining the similarities of cell density in people with other psychological issues as well. For now, it is a start in the right direction for shedding some light on possible new interventions for both those with epilepsy and those with schizophrenia.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

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  • Nikki

    Nikki

    May 4th, 2011 at 4:28 AM

    Cell density… now that is a new one on me. I have epilepsy and have to see a neurologist every few moths to have my medications checked and to make sure all is well but he has never talked to me about this. Think I will ask at my next appointment.

  • Flutter-by

    Flutter-by

    May 4th, 2011 at 8:46 PM

    So does this mean that one can lead to another? Or give us a hint that a common med could be the future? It would be really interesting to find out because a lot of people are affected by these disorders.

  • Jane

    Jane

    May 5th, 2011 at 4:36 AM

    How much research is really being done to connect the dots between these two illnesses? These are both illnesses that I have seen in my family so I am very interested in the connections and the markers that could set these things into motion.

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