Expressed emotion in the relatives of people with epileptic or nonepileptic seizures

Epilepsia. 2003 Aug;44(8):1094-102. doi: 10.1046/j.1528-1157.2003.09503.x.


Purpose: This study investigated Expressed Emotion (EE) in relatives of people with epileptic or nonepileptic seizures (NES).

Methods: In a cross-sectional study, we used the Five-Minute Speech Sample to explore EE in the key relative of people with epilepsy (n = 36) and those with NESs (n = 21), as well as levels of anxiety and depression and use of coping strategies.

Results: A significantly greater proportion of relatives of NES than epilepsy patients were rated as high EE. Hostility was evident in more high-EE epilepsy than high-EE NES relatives, whereas emotional overinvolvement and positive relationship ratings tended to be more common in high-EE NES relatives. High- and low-EE epilepsy relatives used problem-focused as opposed to emotion-focused coping strategies significantly more than half the time. High EE and seizure frequency were not associated. Age at onset of the disorder was higher in epilepsy patients with high- than with low-EE relatives.

Conclusions: Irrespective of etiology, carers for people with seizure disorders may find it hard to adjust to the difficulties these disorders create. Interventions that encourage problem-solving, reappraisals of "loss" and education regarding the causes of some of the patients' behavioral and mood problems seem likely to be beneficial.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis
  • Conversion Disorder / psychology*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Expressed Emotion*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Problem Solving
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Sick Role