NM  Vol.9 No.4 , December 2018
Psychiatric Evaluation during Epilepsy Monitoring Unit Admission Identifies Undiagnosed Psychiatric Co-Morbidities in Epilepsy Patients
Rationale: Epilepsy patients are known to have multiple comorbidities. Comorbid psychiatric diagnosis contributes to the poor outcome, especially undiagnosed psychiatric conditions. The goal of the study is to properly identify specific psychiatric diagnosis in this patient population, providing targeted treatment recommendation. Methods: All patients admitted to Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) from October 2016 to May 2017 are included in this analysis. Psychiatric evaluation was completed from all ninety-seven patients except one due to family refusal (N = 96). All patients have pre-existing epilepsy diagnosis or suspicion of epilepsy. Psychiatric evaluation includes patient interview, family interview, chart review, and discussion with neurology team. Results: Ninety-seven patients were admitted to the EMU between October 2016-November 2017; 96 of those patients received psychiatric intervention. There were 53 (55%) female participants and 43 (45%) male participants; mean age was 43 years old. Of ninety-six epilepsy and epilepsy suspect patients, 61 (64%) reported history of psychiatric illness; 34 (56%) of these patients were treated by their neurologist or primary care doctor for depression or anxiety. Four patients (4.2%) reported pre-existing Post-Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD) with history of severe trauma. Four patients (4.2%) had autistic spectrum disorder diagnosed at young age; all related to early-onset epilepsy. Five patients (5.2%) had documented, pre-existing Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizure (PNES) or conversion disorder evidenced by negative EEG. A few other psychiatric diagnoses were unrelated to epilepsy. Thirty-five patients (36%) who reported no pre-existing psychiatric diagnosis had never had a psychiatric evaluation. After formal psychiatric screening at EMU, 56 out of 96 (58%) of patients’ psychiatric diagnosis has changed. Ten out of 41 (24%) of the patients with pre-existing diagnosis of depression or anxiety were found to have different types of somatic symptoms. With EEG correlation, 13 (14%) patients were confirmed to have PNES or conversion disorder with mixed symptoms during EMU admission from 5 (5%) diagnosed PNES cases before EMU admission. Nine patients met the criteria of somatic symptom disorder with chronic, non-neurological symptoms. Seven (7%) patients received a new diagnosis of adjustment disorder; four of them were due to uncontrolled epilepsy. Five patients received a new diagnosis of PTSD with severe early life trauma; among them, three patients also received another new diagnosis of chronic somatic symptom disorder. Conclusions: Proper diagnosis of psychiatric comorbidities is the first step in treatment. Inpatient psychiatric evaluation during EMU admission identifies more specific psychiatric diagnoses, leading to more targeted treatment recommendations. We strongly recommend integrated psychiatric evaluation for all EMU admissions. Psychiatric consultation with daily inpatient follow-up during EMU admission identified PNES, conversion disorder with mixed symptoms, other somatic symptom disorders and adjustment disorder related to epilepsy, which led to more targeted treatment recommendations. Unrecognized and untreated conversion patients are just as disabled as patients with epilepsy. The misdiagnosis of PNES leads to inappropriate treatment of presumed epilepsy, with significant risk of iatrogenic injury, morbidity and increased cost to patient and to the health care system.
Cite this paper
Yu, D. , Kurukumbi, M. and Hameid, D. (2018) Psychiatric Evaluation during Epilepsy Monitoring Unit Admission Identifies Undiagnosed Psychiatric Co-Morbidities in Epilepsy Patients. Neuroscience and Medicine, 9, 180-186. doi: 10.4236/nm.2018.94018.
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