Prevalence and psychopathologic significance of hallucinations in individuals with a history of seizures
Objective: A relationship between seizure activity and hallucinations is well established. The psychopathologic significance of hallucinations in individuals with seizures, however, is unclear. In this study, we assessed the prevalence of auditory and visual hallucinations in individuals who reported a seizure history and investigated their relationship with a number of mental disorders, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.
Methods: Data were from the "Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey," a population-based cross-sectional survey. Auditory and visual hallucinations were assessed using the Psychosis Screening Questionnaire. Mental health disorders were assessed using the Clinical Interview Schedule. Logistic regressions assessed relationships between hallucinatory experiences and mental disorders, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts.
Results: A total of 14 812 adults (58% female; mean [standard error of the mean; SEM] age 51.8 [0.15]) completed the study; 1.39% reported having ever had seizures (54% female), and 8% of individuals with a seizure history reported hallucinatory experiences (odds ratio [OR] 2.05, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.24-3.38). Individuals with seizures had an increased odds of having any mental disorder (OR 2.34, 95% CI 1.73-3.16), suicidal ideation (OR 2.38, 95% CI 1.77-3.20), and suicide attempt (OR 4.15, 95% CI 2.91-5.92). Compared to individuals with seizures who did not report hallucinatory experiences, individuals with seizures who reported hallucinatory experiences had an increased odds of any mental disorder (OR 3.47, 95% CI 1.14-10.56), suicidal ideation (OR 2.58, 95% CI 0.87-7.63), and suicide attempt (OR 4.61, 95% CI 1.56-13.65). Overall, more than half of individuals with a seizure history who reported hallucinatory experiences had at least one suicide attempt. Adjusting for psychopathology severity did not account for the relationship between hallucinatory experiences and suicide attempts.
Significance: Hallucinatory experiences in individuals with seizures are markers of high risk for mental health disorders and suicidal behavior. There is a particularly strong relationship between hallucinations and suicide attempts in individuals with seizures. Clinicians working with individuals with seizures should routinely ask about hallucinatory experiences.
Health Research Award HRA-PHR-2015-1130 from the Health Research Board (Ireland)
Irish Research Council award COALESCE/2019/61
European Research Council Consolidator Award (iHEAR Grant number 724809)
RCSI StAR programme
CommentsThis is the peer reviewed version of the following article:, Yates K. et al. Prevalence and psychopathologic significance of hallucinations in individuals with a history of seizures. Epilepsia. 2020;61(7):1464-1471, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/epi.16570 This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving
Published CitationYates K. et al. Prevalence and psychopathologic significance of hallucinations in individuals with a history of seizures. Epilepsia. 2020;61(7):1464-1471
Publication Date10 June 2020
- Beaumont Hospital
- Health Psychology
- Neurological and Psychiatric Disorders
- Population Health and Health Services
- Accepted Version (Postprint)