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Hallucinations Tied to Mental Illness in Individuals With Seizures

Hallucinatory experiences also strong risk marker for suicidal behavior in those with seizures

TUESDAY, June 16, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Hallucinatory experiences in individuals with seizures are markers of high risk for mental health disorders and suicidal behavior, according to a study published online June 10 in Epilepsia.

Kathryn Yates, Ph.D., from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, and colleagues assessed the prevalence of auditory and visual hallucinations in individuals who reported a seizure history and investigated their relationship with a number of mental disorders, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. The analysis included 14,812 adults (58 percent female; mean age, 51.8 years) participating in the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey.

The researchers found that 1.39 percent of patients reported having ever had seizures (54 percent female), and 8 percent of individuals with a seizure history reported hallucinatory experiences (odds ratio [OR], 2.05). Higher odds of having any mental disorder (OR, 2.34), suicidal ideation (OR, 2.38), and suicide attempt (OR, 4.15) were seen among individuals with seizures. Individuals with seizures who reported hallucinatory experiences had increased odds of any mental disorder (OR, 3.47), suicidal ideation (OR, 2.58), and suicide attempt (OR, 4.61) compared with individuals with seizures but not hallucinatory experiences. More than half of individuals with a seizure history who reported hallucinatory experiences had at least one suicide attempt. Adjusting for psychopathology severity did not account for the connection between hallucinatory experiences and suicide attempts.

“Clinicians working with individuals with seizures should routinely ask about hallucinatory experiences,” the authors write.

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