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.


Schizophrenia-like psychosis and epilepsy: the status of the association.

Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Mar;155(3):325-36.


Neuropsychiatric Institute, Prince Henry Hospital and School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.



Current knowledge of the relationship between epilepsy and schizophrenia-like psychosis is examined, and the proposed pathogenetic mechanisms are evaluated.


The author provides an overview of the published literature on epilepsy and schizophrenia-like psychosis.


The schizophrenia-like psychoses of epilepsy are inadequately categorized by the current classifications. Their categorization into ictal, postictal, and interictal psychoses is clinically useful, but it does not imply distinct pathophysiology for each. The recent interest in postictal psychoses has opened an important avenue for research. Brief interictal psychoses, involving alternation between epilepsy and psychosis and accompanied by forced normalization, are uncommon. Many aspects of the relationship with chronic interictal psychosis remain controversial. The majority of investigators support a special but not exclusive relationship with mediobasal temporal lobe epilepsy, and left temporal bias receives only limited support. The chronic psychosis resembles schizophrenia phenomenologically. Some suggested risk factors are severe and intractable epilepsy, epilepsy of early onset, secondary generalization of seizures, certain anticonvulsant drugs, and temporal lobectomy. Different neuropathological studies suggest the presence of cortical dysgenesis or diffuse brain damage.


There are many mechanisms by which epilepsy may be associated with schizophrenia-like psychosis. It is likely that structural brain abnormalities, e.g., cortical dysgenesis or diffuse brain lesions, underlie both epilepsy and psychosis, and that the seizures modify the presentation of the psychosis, and vice versa, thus producing a clinical picture of both an affinity and an antagonism between the two disorders.

[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Psychotic illness in patients with epilepsy

Kousuke Kanemoto, Department of Neuropsychiatry, Aichi Medical University, Nagakute, Aichi, Japan;
Corresponding author.
Copyright © The Author(s), 2012


Apart from the rather rare ictal psychotic events, such as non-convulsive status epilepticus, modern epileptic psychoses have been categorized into three main types; chronic and acute interictal psychoses (IIPs) and postictal psychosis (PIP). Together, they comprise 95% of psychoses in patients with epilepsy (PWE). Four major questions, that is, “Is psychosis in PWE a direct consequence of epilepsy or schizophrenia induced by epilepsy?”, “Is psychosis in PWE homogeneous or heterogeneous?”, “Does psychosis in PWE have symptomatological differences from schizophrenia and related disorders?”, “Is psychosis in PWE uniquely associated with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE)?” are tried to be answered in this review with relevant case presentations. In the final section, we propose a tentative classification of psychotic illness in PWE, with special attention to those who have undergone epilepsy surgery. Psychotic disorders in PWE are often overlooked, mistreated, and consequently lingering on needlessly. While early diagnosis is unanimously supported as a first step to avoid this delay, necessity of switching from antiepileptic drugs with supposedly adverse psychotopic effects. to others is more controversial. To elucidate the riddle of alternative psychosis, we need badly further reliable data.

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