Alexithymia and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Following Epileptic Seizure
Man Cheung Chung
Rachel D. Allen
Published online: 17 October 2012
Ó Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012
Abstract This study investigated (1) the incidence of posttraumatic stress disorder fol-
lowing epileptic seizure (post-epileptic seizure PTSD) and psychiatric co-morbidity and
(2) the extent to which alexithymia traits related to the severity of the preceding outcomes.
Seventy-one people with epilepsy participated in the study and completed the Posttrau-
matic Stress Diagnostic Scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and
Toronto Alexithymia Scale. The control group comprised 71 people without epilepsy who
completed the HADS. Fifty-one percent met the diagnostic criteria for full-PTSD; 30 % for
partial-PTSD and 19 % for no-PTSD. The epilepsy group reported signiﬁcantly more
anxiety and depression than the control with demographic variables controlled for. Difﬁ-
culty identifying feelings predicted post-epileptic seizure PTSD, anxiety and depression. It
was positively correlated with post-epileptic seizure PTSD and depression, while it was
negatively correlated with anxiety. People can develop PTSD and psychiatric co-morbid
symptoms following epileptic seizures. The severity of these symptoms was related to
difﬁculty in identifying internal feelings and emotions.
Keywords Alexithymia Á Posttraumatic stress Á Seizure
Epileptic seizure is a psychologically distressing experience  accompanied by depres-
sion and anxiety [2–21]. The rates of depression and anxiety among people with epilepsy
tend to be higher than those without epilepsy or those who are seizure-free [22–29].
Understanding the psychiatric co-morbidity of epilepsy  and managing it alongside the
assessment and treatment of epilepsy is therefore imperative [21, 25].
M. C. Chung (&)
Natural Science and Public Health, Zayed University, P.O.Box 144534, Abu Dhabi, UAE
R. D. Allen
University of Plymouth, Plymouth, UK
Psychiatr Q (2013) 84:271–285