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Mental Health

Dr. Nicole Danforth

Nicole Danforth, MD
Psychiatrist, MGH

This is a transcript of a video from the Growing Up with Epilepsy Web site. For more information visit

Dr. Nicole Danforth: Often in cases where a young person has epilepsy, they may be suffering from other mental health issues, and one of the most common mental health issues is a mood disorder. Anxiety disorders are also quite common in children with epilepsy. And also attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is quite common. So, oftentimes a family and the child are sort of dealing with more than just sort of one issue. What we don't know is which comes first. Is the epilepsy causing the mood disorder or do they, is there something in the cause of either illness that they have it common and so if you have one, you're probably more likely to have another? Or, is it sort of the response? You can imagine that you might be quite anxious if you have epilepsy, worrying about when the next seizure is going to come along. And does that become a full-blown anxiety disorder? The other thing that can be quite difficult is oftentimes the treatments for epilepsy, the anti-epileptic drugs, can sometimes cause what might be symptoms of depression. A child might become quite slowed, a little bit lethargic, might have sleep difficulties and might have actually some cognitive difficulties from the medication, which in and of themselves can lead to, you know, can become stressors and possibly lead to these other disorders.