Can Seizures Cause Depression?

People with epilepsy often have depression, which can be quite severe. Is depression a response to the difficulties of living with a chronic disorder, or is it possible that seizures themselves cause depression? An animal study from a group in California has suggested that depression may be caused - or made worse - by repeated seizures that start in the brain regions known as the temporal lobes (located at the sides of the brain). The belief is that the seizures themselves cause depression.

Drs. Brian Scott and Carter Snead are trying to replicate this research finding from California. They are studying whether repeated seizures that start in the temporal lobe structure, known as the hippocampus, produce “depression-like” behaviours in rats.

So far the data suggest that seizures don’t cause depression. Drs. Scott and Snead are now beginning to explore another hypothesis – that depression may make seizures more likely to occur. This would also explain why depression and seizures are closely linked. Work on this new research question has just begun.

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