Comorbid anxiety disorders severely affect daily living and quality of life in patients with epilepsy. We evaluated 97 consecutive outpatients (41.2% male, mean age=42.3+/-13.2 years, mean epilepsy duration=26.9+/-14.2 years) with refractory focal epilepsy using the German version of the anxiety section of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders (SCID-I). Nineteen patients (19.6%) were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (social phobia, 7.2%; specific phobia, 6.2%; panic disorder, 5.1%; generalized anxiety disorder, 3.1%; anxiety disorder not further specified, 2.1%; obsessive-compulsive disorder, 1.0%; posttraumatic stress disorder, 1.0%). Four-week prevalence rates reported elsewhere for the general population in Germany are 1.24% for social phobia, 4.8% for specific phobia, 1.1% for panic disorder, 1.2% for generalized anxiety disorder, 1.3% for anxiety disorder not further specified, and 0.4% for obsessive-compulsive disorder. A trend for people with shorter epilepsy duration (P=0.084) and younger age (P=0.078) being more likely to have a diagnosis of anxiety disorder was revealed. No gender differences were found; however, this may be due to the small sample size. In conclusion, anxiety disorders are frequent in patients with refractory focal epilepsy, and clinicians should carefully examine their patients with this important comorbidity in mind.
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