How an Epilepsy Episode Impacts Mental Health During TBI Recovery

Man Fallen on Ground

After suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the most difficult days may lie ahead for the patient as he or she attempts to recover. Complications with healing, treatment, and day-to-day life can be numerous and varied. Perhaps one of the worst health complications that can arise is post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) that often triggers due to actual physical damage to the brain and its composition. Epilepsy will mostly manifest as strong, full-body seizures.

Researching PTE, TBI & Possible Connections

Although it is widely believed that certain mental health issues and diseases could be directly related to episodes of epilepsy, the research has not been entirely founded. There is a general gap in the information and data necessary to fully and confidently reach that conclusion. In order to try to advance the understanding of how PTE can worsen a TBI patient’s health conditions, researchers recently conducted a more thorough study**.

The researchers compiled medical and patient records from clinics that worked with TBI patients, amassing more than 800 data groups in total. The information was used to track notable lapses of depression, anxiety attacks, and seizures, comparing those findings to 12- and 24-month marks since the patient suffered their traumatic brain injury. If there was an increasing or unpredictable trend among the events after an epilepsy episode, it could suggest that PTE was worsening the TBI or at least complicating the patient’s natural ability to recover from the TBI.

After combing through the information, the researchers were able to conclude that post-traumatic epilepsy did not actually cause depression, and vice versa. There did seem to be a significant link between PTE and general anxiety or anxiety attacks, though. For patients that suffered epileptic seizures for longer than two years, the amount of anxiety they experienced in day-to-day life was reportedly much higher than those who no longer were at risk of PTE. It is possible that the awareness that they could randomly be stricken by a full-body seizure heightened their own anxiety, understandably so.

Reduced Quality of Life Caused by PTE

By the end of the research, it was concluded that a patient suffering from seizures or a mental health disorder would experience a lessened quality of life and a worsened chance to achieve complete TBI recovery. However, a patient who suffered both from seizures and depression or anxiety would experience an even more significant negative impact on overall happiness and health. The study should urge physicians and medical professionals who work with TBI patients to pay greater attention to PTE events and how such epileptic attacks could be causing other health consequences. Especially close attention must be paid to patients who still have PTE episodes after two years. Planning epilepsy treatments into such a patient’s healthcare schedule could be beneficial.

Have you or a loved one suffered a brain injury caused by another party’s negligence, perhaps due to an automobile accident or medical malpractice? Scarlett Law Group and our San Francisco personal injury attorneys would like to hear about what happened during a free consultation. We may be able to help you seek maximized compensation from the liable party through a successful injury claim. Contact our firm today to begin.

[** Juengst SB, Wagner AK, Ritter AC, et al. Post-traumatic epilepsy associations with mental health outcomes in the first two years after moderate to severe TBI: A TBI Model Systems analysis. Epilepsy & Behavior. (June 2017).]

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