Do Seizures Cause Psychosis?

Depression is not the only mental health issue that is seen in people with temporal lobe epilepsy (epilepsy where seizures begin at the side of the brain). Some people, although far fewer, develop a type of psychosis similar to schizophrenia.

These “schizophrenia-like” behaviours can be re-created in experimental animals for the purpose of understanding the condition. Drs. Stan Leung and Seyed Mirsattari are trying to find out whether repeated seizures that start in the part of the temporal lobe, known as the hippocampus, can produce “schizophrenia-like” behaviours in rats. They have found that certain schizophrenia-like behaviours do occur after repeated seizures in rats, and they believe that these are caused by changes in the way brain cells communicate with each other - including changes in the excitatory dopamine system and the inhibitory “gamma aminobutyric acid type B” (GABA-B) receptors.

It is possible that by reversing these changes in the dopamine system and the GABA-B receptors, the schizophrenia-like behaviors can be treated. Understanding these changes in rats will be the first step in learning how to prevent or reverse schizophrenia-like behaviours in people living with seizures.

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