Neuropsychiatric and Cognitive Comorbidities in Epilepsy

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2022 Apr 1;28(2):457-482. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000001123.


Purpose of review: This article discusses psychiatric and cognitive comorbidities of epilepsy over the lifespan and illustrates opportunities to improve the quality of care of children and adults with epilepsy.

Recent findings: One in 3 people with epilepsy have a lifetime history of psychiatric disorders, and they represent an important prognostic marker of epilepsy. Contributors are diverse and display a complex relationship. Cognitive comorbidities are also common among those living with epilepsy and are increasingly recognized as a reflection of changes to underlying brain networks. Among the cognitive comorbidities, intellectual disability and dementia are common and can complicate the diagnostic process when cognitive and/or behavioral features resemble seizures.

Summary: Comorbidities require consideration from the first point of contact with a patient because they can determine the presentation of symptoms, responsiveness to treatment, and the patient's day-to-day functioning and quality of life. In epilepsy, psychiatric and cognitive comorbidities may prove a greater source of disability for the patient and family than the seizures themselves, and in the case of essential comorbidities, they are regarded as core to the disorder in terms of etiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Comorbidity
  • Epilepsy* / complications
  • Epilepsy* / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life*
  • Seizures / complications