10-Year research update review: Psychiatric problems in children with epilepsy

Sigita Plioplys*, David W. Dunn, Rochelle Caplan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To critically review literature published from 1996 to 2007 on psychopathology in children with epilepsy (CWE). METHOD: Using Ovid, we searched Medline and PsychInfo databases for original studies on epidemiology, risk factors, clinical characteristics, treatment, and outcome of psychopathology in CWE, ages 0 to 18 years, using the terms "psychopathology," "emotional and behavioral problems," and "mental health problems." We selectively present the findings of studies that are clinically relevant to mental health professionals. RESULTS: Psychopathology occurs in 37% to 77% of CWE, and attention, internalizing, and thought problems may be specific to epilepsy. Cognitive and linguistic deficits, as well as family factors, have moderating effects on psychopathology in CWE. The association of epilepsy-related variables, including antiepileptic drugs, with psychopathology is inconsistent in cognitively normal CWE. Children with symptomatic epilepsy and devastating epilepsy syndromes have high rates of global developmental delay, hyperactivity, and autistic symptoms. The treatment of psychopathology in CWE integrates standard psychiatric practices. CONCLUSIONS: Epilepsy is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by seizures, psychopathology, cognitive, and linguistic problems. Improved early identification of CWE at risk for psychopathology, evidence-based psychiatric treatment, and multidisciplinary management strategies would advance clinical practice in this highly complex field of pediatric neuropsychiatry. Copyright 2007

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1389-1402
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Antiepileptic drugs
  • Children
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Epilepsy
  • Family factors
  • Psychopathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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