Psychological distress due to Pandemic more prevalent in people with epilepsy according to Chinese study

A new study recently featured in renowned epilepsy medical journal - Epilepsia - has found that psychological distress owing to the COVID19 pandemic is much more prevalent in people with epilepsy. 

The study was undertaken in Southwest China during the height of the COVID19 pandemic in the region and compared the psychological distress between 252 people with epilepsy and those who were not living with any condition.

The study used the "Six‐item Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K-6)" method to measure the psychological distress that participants were experiencing. This method employs a series of quick-fire questionairres to establish whether there is a risk of severe mental illness in the subjects. 

It was found that those with epilepsy experienced a much higher level of psychological distress than those who were "healthy". Some of the key findings of this study can be found below:

  • Psychological distress is highly prevalent among patients with epilepsy during public health emergencies
  • During such emergencies, patients with drug‐resistant epilepsy are at elevated risk of severe psychological distress
  • Spending less time paying attention to media coverage of public health emergencies is associated with lower psychological distress among patients
  • During public health outbreaks, clinicians and caregivers should focus not only on seizure control but also on mental health of patients with epilepsy, especially those with drug-resistant epilepsy”

The study in full can be found here & here. 

As we begin a new phase in Ireland's roadmap to a "new normal", the study results come as a timely reminder to people with epilepsy to manage their mental health as best as possible during the current pandemic. To that end, the International Bureau for Epilepsy have a very useful guide on managing psychological distress during the current situation that can be found here.

Furthermore, we have a number of resources which you may find of use in the Mental Health and Stress section of our dedicated COVID19 mini-site. Please remember that we are available to you throughout this pandemic through our team of Community Resource Officers - their details can be found here.