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Epilepsy and suicide: pathogenesis, risk factors, and prevention

Authors Verrotti A, Cicconetti A, Scorrano B, De Berardis D, Cotellessa C, Chiarelli F, Ferro FM

Published 11 April 2008 Volume 2008:4(2) Pages 365—370

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S2158


Alberto Verrotti1, Alessandra Cicconetti2, Barbara Scorrano2, Domenico De Berardis2,3, Carla Cotellessa2, Francesco Chiarelli1, Filippo Maria Ferro2

1Department of Pediatrics; 2Department of Oncology and Neuroscience, Institute of Psychiatry, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti, Italy; 3Department of Mental Health, Teramo, Italy

Abstract: Depression and suicide tendencies are common in chronic diseases, especially in epilepsy and diabetes. Suicide is one of the most important causes of death, and is usually underestimated. We have analyzed several studies that compare mortality as a result of suicide in epileptic patients and in the general population. All the studies show that epileptic patients have a stronger tendency toward suicide than healthy controls. Moreover it seems that some kinds of epilepsy have a higher risk for suicide (temporal-lobe epilepsy). Among the risk factors are surgery therapy (suicide tendency five times higher than patients in pharmacological therapy), absence of seizures for a long time, especially after being very frequent, and psychiatric comorbidity (major depression, anxiety-depression disorders, personality disorders, substance abuse, psychoses). The aim of the review was to analyze the relationship between suicide and epilepsy, to identify the major risk factors, and to analyze effective treatment options.

Keywords: epilepsy, suicide, depression

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