Are psychiatric disorders independent risk factors for new-onset epilepsy in older individuals?

Alan B. Ettinger, Laurel A. Copeland, John E. Zeber, Anne C.Van Cott, Mary Jo V. Pugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


This retrospective study examined whether psychiatric conditions are directly related to epilepsy or, rather, are associated with underlying central nervous system (CNS) disorders linked to subsequent epilepsy. We examined data from a sample of older veterans (>65 years) receiving care from the Veterans Health Administration during fiscal year 2000. We compared individuals with new-onset epilepsy and individuals without epilepsy to examine the extent to which psychiatric disorders were associated with new-onset epilepsy; this analysis controlled for demographic and premorbid neurological risk factors previously associated with new-onset epilepsy. Premorbid psychiatric conditions occurred at higher rates in the epilepsy versus nonepilepsy groups, foremost including depression (17% vs 12%), anxiety (12% vs 8%), psychosis (12% vs 5%), and substance abuse (8% vs 4%). However, in the final model, only psychosis (OR = 1.4, CI 1.2-1.6) was significantly associated with epilepsy when controlling for neurological disorders and psychiatric conditions (e.g., stroke, dementia, brain tumor, head injury).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-74
Number of pages5
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010


  • Comorbidity
  • Elderly
  • Epilepsy
  • Mental disorders
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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