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.