Personality changes in patients suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy after surgical treatment: a 1-year follow-up study

Epilepsy Res. 2021 Nov:177:106784. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2021.106784. Epub 2021 Oct 7.


Objective: To determine changes in dimensions of personality in a sample of patients suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy at the 1-year follow-up following surgery, compared to non-surgically treated controls.

Methods: We conducted a prospective comparative controlled study, including drug-resistant epilepsy surgery candidates. Demographic, psychiatric, neurological, and psychological data were recorded. Presurgical and 12-months follow-up evaluations were performed. Personality dimensions were measured by the NEO Five-Factor Inventory, Revised version (NEO-FFI-R), anxiety and depression symptoms were assessed by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS: HADA-Anxiety and HADD-Depression), psychiatric evaluations were performed using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) Axis-I disorders classification. Statistical analysis consisted of comparative tests, correlation analysis, and the stepwise multiple regression test (ANOVA).

Results: A 1-year follow-up was completed by 70 out of 80 patients. Through the study, the surgical group decreased in neuroticism and increased in agreeableness. The controls increased in consciousness, and these changes were predicted by the earlier age of epilepsy onset and lesser score in HADD at the baseline. No personality changes were associated with seizure frequency. The presurgical evaluation concluded that both groups had no differences in demographic, psychiatric, or neurological variables with the only exception being for the number of seizures per month, which was higher in the surgical group. Psychiatric comorbidity in patients was associated with their higher degree of neuroticism and agreeableness at the baseline. Comparing control and surgical groups at the one-year follow-up, the agreeableness personality variable was higher in the surgical group, and as expected, HADS scores were higher in the control group, and seizure frequency was also higher in the control group.

Significance: Higher agreeableness was the most relevant difference in personality dimensions in patients who underwent surgical treatment compared with the non-surgical treatment group. After surgery patients decreased in neuroticism and increased in agreeableness scores.

Keywords: Drug-resistant epilepsy; Epilepsy surgery; Personality; Refractory epilepsy.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety* / psychology
  • Epilepsy* / psychology
  • Epilepsy* / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Personality
  • Prospective Studies