Epileptic peri-ictal psychosis, a reversible cause of psychosis.

Neurologia. 2012 Jun 13. [Epub ahead of print]
[Article in English, Spanish]


Servicio de Neurología, Hospital Clínico Universitario Lozano Blesa, Zaragoza, España.



Epileptic psychoses are categorised as peri-ictal and interictal according to their relationship with the occurrence of seizures. There is a close temporal relationship between peri-ictal psychosis and seizures, and psychosis may present before (preictal), during (ictal) or after seizures (postictal). Epileptic psychoses usually have acute initial and final phases, with a short symptom duration and complete remission with a risk of recurrence. There is no temporal relationship between interictal or chronic psychosis and epileptic seizures. Another type of epileptic psychosis is related to the response to epilepsy treatment: epileptic psychosis caused by the phenomenon of forced normalisation (alternative psychosis), which includes epileptic psychosis secondary to epilepsy surgery. Although combination treatment with antiepileptic and neuroleptic drugs is now widely used to manage this condition, there are no standard treatment guidelines for epileptic psychosis.


We present 5 cases of peri-ictal epileptic psychosis in which we observed an excellent response to treatment with levetiracetam. Good control was achieved over both seizures and psychotic episodes. Levetiracetam was used in association with neuroleptic drugs with no adverse effects, and our patients did not require high doses of the latter.


Categorising psychotic states associated with epilepsy according to their temporal relationship with seizures is clinically and prognostically useful because it provides important information regarding disease treatment and progression. The treatment of peri-ictal or acute mental disorders is based on epileptic seizure control, while the treatment of interictal or chronic disorders has more in common with managing disorders which are purely psychiatric in origin. In addition to improving the patient’s quality of life and reducing disability, achieving strict control over seizures may also prevent the development of interictal psychosis. For this reason, we believe that establishing a treatment protocol for such cases is necessary.

Copyright © 2010 Sociedad Española de Neurología. Published by Elsevier Espana. All rights reserved.

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