-- Robert Preidt
MONDAY, Dec. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Besides helping to boost
mood, antidepressants may also reduce seizure frequency for people
with epilepsy, a new study suggests.
The study, to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the
American Epilepsy Society in San Diego, included patients who were
prescribed one of two types of antidepressants -- selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin norepinephrine
reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). These types include drugs such as
Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, among others.
Researchers led by Dr. Ramses Ribot, of Rush University Medical
Center in Chicago, tracked changes in mood and anxiety levels for
100 people with epilepsy at three and six months after the start of
Improvement or remission of symptoms was seen in 86 percent of
patients, the investigators found.
The antidepressants tested "do not appear to worsen seizure
frequency and yield a good therapeutic response independently of
seizure frequency," Ribot said in a society news release. "Our
studies also suggest these antidepressants may actually have an
anti-seizure effect in patients with frequent seizures," he
The researchers said the findings should be of interest to
doctors who treat people with epilepsy, but the results need to be
confirmed in further studies.
One epilepsy expert said the findings are reassuring for doctors
"This study provides additional support for the safety and effectiveness of antidepressant medications in patients with epilepsy and comorbid [co-existing] depression," said Dr. Orrin Devinsky, director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
He explained that, in rare cases in the past, SSRIs and SSNIs
have been linked to a lowering of the threshold at which epileptic
seizures might occur.
"This has unfortunately led many psychiatrists and neurologists to avoid the use of these medications in epilepsy patients," Devinsky said. "However, the findings of Ribot and colleagues provide clear support that depressed patients with epilepsy should be treated with effective doses of these medications. Further, these medications can improve depression and quality of life and, in many patients, reduce seizure frequency."
While the study found an association between antidepressant use
and reduced seizure activity, it did not prove a cause-and-effect
Findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered
preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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