Panic and epilepsy in adults: A systematic review

Publication date: August 2018Source:Epilepsy & Behavior, Volume 85
Author(s): Adrienne L. Johnson, Alison C. McLeish, Paula K. Shear, Michael Privitera
The purpose of the current paper was to review the empirical literature on the cooccurrence of panic and epilepsy, in order to determine whether there is an increased risk of panic attacks and panic disorder among adults with epilepsy and an increased risk of epilepsy among adults with panic disorder. Given the overlap between panic and ictal fear, a preliminary aim of the current review was to critically evaluate the methodology used to differentiate between diagnoses of panic disorder and epilepsy in existing research. A literature search was conducted in relevant electronic databases, and articles that directly focused on panic and epilepsy among adults were selected for the current review (n = 17). Overall, results suggest that rates of epilepsy are elevated among individuals with panic disorder and that panic attacks are elevated among individuals with epilepsy, but rates of panic disorder among people with epilepsy are inconsistent. However, most studies did not use sufficiently rigorous methods to differentiate between panic disorder and epilepsy. Therefore, a critical next step in this area of research is to develop a standard procedure for differentiating ictal fear from panic attacks and panic disorder.