AUSTIN-- You never know when a seizure will come. It can be a daily struggle for epilepsy patients. On the first international epilepsy day, there is some good news for the patients -- not about epilepsy but about something that can accompany it. A study released in January found ADHD symptoms are magnified much more for one out of every five patients.
In the past, doctors have been hesitant to prescribe Adderall or other psycho-stimulant medications to epileptic adults with ADHD for fear of making seizures worse. Now this study confirms what many doctors have long suspected – those medications are not only prudent, they're necessary.
It's kind of like a short circuit -- epilepsy is a disorder of the brain's electrical system that results in seizures. 19-year-old Megan Forbes knows firsthand. She's had epilepsy half of her life. But just a couple of years ago, came her lowest point in life after severe anxiety and depression started to occur more often than the seizures.
"I just noticed my grades just started to drop down to F's, and I was never a poor student," said Forbes. "I always had B's and A's."
She had no idea she also suffers from attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder – a problem a new study found can make adult epilepsy patients nine times more likely to suffer depression, and eight times more likely to experience anxiety. They also suffered more seizures.
"I didn't have a clue," said Forbes. "I knew that something could have been up with my epilepsy. We had to increase my dosage, but I had no clue that ADHD was a new symptom or a new problem being introduced."
"If that activity lasts too long – typically around 10 seconds or so – it will impair the person's attention," said Sami Aboumatar, M.D., a neurologist specializing in epilepsy who practices at St. David's North Austin Medical Center and affiliate member of NeuroTexas Institute at St. David's HealthCare.
"For years we've known that children with Epilepsy had high prevalence of ADHD symptoms," he said.
But Aboumatar says until the recent study, they didn't know much about ADHD in adults.