Depression: A Marker For Epilepsy, Not A Side-effect

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26th October 2010, 01:50pm - Views: 3180

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Issued 26 Oct 2010


Depression: a marker for epilepsy, not a side-effect

Overseas studies into the link between depressive disorders and epilepsy suggest that depression could be a

clear marker for a severe form of epilepsy, not a side-effect, according to a visiting epileptologist, Professor

Andres Kanner (Senior Attending Physician in the department of Neurological Sciences at Rush University

Medical Center  and Professor of Neurological Sciences and Psychiatry at Rush Medical College of Rush

University in Chicago, USA).

Prof Kanner joins Prof Graham Scambler from the United Kingdom as international guest speakers at the

Inaugural Epilepsy Symposium in Brisbane tomorrow (Wednesday 27 October 2010).

Prof Kanner said that for many years, depression was believed to be caused by epilepsy, however it has been

found that people suffering long-term depression have a four to seven-fold higher risk of developing epilepsy.

Unfortunately, these same people are less likely to respond positively to surgery or epilepsy medication. 

Prof Kanner has conducted research in the psychiatric aspects of epilepsy, the world’s most common serious

brain disorder. He has been director of the Laboratory of Electroencephalography and Video-EEG-Telemetry at

Rush University Medical Center since 1991; and his research in epilepsy surgery, pharmacology and the brain

disorder’s link with depressive disorders has been broadly published. Prof Kanner had an epileptic seizure

himself four years ago which led to significant changes in his evaluation and treatment of patients.

Prof Kanner said research showed that as well as a history of depression, people with recurring migraine with

aura, major depressive episodes and suicidal tendencies face up to six times the risk of having an unprovoked

epileptic seizure. He said this could be explained by abnormal brain serotonin activity, and could influence the

way some forms of epilepsy were treated.

He also believes that the concerns of many doctors in prescribing anti-depressant drugs to people with

epilepsy are unfounded, saying most anti-depressant treatments can be prescribed safely.

Prof Kanner’s address to the symposium, hosted by Epilepsy Queensland Inc and Griffith University, will

further discuss the bidirectional relation between epilepsy and depression and its implications for the treatment

of the two conditions. The presentation starts at 3pm.

Also speaking at the symposium is Prof Graham Scambler, a medical sociologist from University College in

London, best known for his work on the social, psychological and quality of life issues associated with epilepsy.

Prof Scambler will address the stigma facing people with epilepsy. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  Media please call Helen Whitehead (CEO of EQI) on 0400 578898 or Professor

Harry McConnell via 56780719


While in Brisbane, the symposium speakers will also address the 14th

Pacific Rim College of Psychiatrists

Scientific Meeting, to be held from 28 to 30 October at the Brisbane Convention Centre. Epilepsy-related topics

to be discussed will include advances in medical treatments and the use of psychotropic drugs.

PROGRAM – INAUGURAL EPILEPSY SYMPOSIUM (Wednesday 27 October 2010 – Russell Strong

Auditorium, Princess Alexandra Hospital) 


Welcome by Wally Lewis, EQI Patron


Prof Andres Kanner (Bidirectional relation between epilepsy and depression and its implications

for the treatment of the two conditions)


Prof Harry McConnell (Seizure site and type – relationship to behaviour, mental health and

treatment approaches)


The Hon Paul Lucas MP Deputy Premier - address


Assoc Prof Malcolm Hopwood (Epilepsy and other common mental health conditions – what

they are and how to treat them)


Prof Graham Scambler (Epilepsy and stigma – is it necessary to live in the shadows?  What can

we do about it at an individual, school, workplace and community level?)


Questions to the panel


Close of seminar, followed at 6.30pm with presentation of EQI’s Annual Awards to recognise

people who have contributed to the epilepsy community



MEETING  (Thursday 28 October to 30 October 2010 – Brisbane Convention Centre: Epilepsy Stream is

on 28 October)

11.00 -12.30pm

Chair, Prof Harry McConnell 

Prof Graham Scambler (Epilepsy and stigma interventions to reduce stigma in clinical


Assoc Prof Malcolm Hopwood (Epilepsy and psychosis)

Prof Andres Kanner (Effects of treatments on seizures and depression)

Sandeep Bhutah (Neuroradiological correlates of neuropsychiatry and epilepsy)

1.30 – 3.00pm 

Dr Dan McLaughlin (Advances in medical treatment of epilepsy)

Assoc Prof Malcolm Hopwood (Use of psychotropic drugs in people with epilepsy)

Dr  Kate Riney  (Sudden death associated with epilepsy)

Prof Harry McConnell (Psychiatric Co-morbidity and epilepsy treatment)

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