I Played the Left Frontal Lobe in This Video for “Dance Your Dissertation”!

Seizures Sabotage the Brain from Couple 3 Films on Vimeo.

People with epilepsy are significantly more likely to also have depression. But why is this the case? What are the underlying mechanisms that might link these two neurological diseases?

In our dance, we wished to convey one very simple idea: that epileptic seizures may lead to changes in the limbic region of the brain, making that brain more prone to depression. Serotonin reception binding (here represented with pink scarves) is reduced after epileptic seizures. Structural changes are also observed throughout the limbic system, especially in a brain that suffers from repeated seizures.

In her PhD dissertation, “Psychometric Assessment of Major Depressive Disorder in Epilepsy Patients”, Dr. Jennifer Wolkin sought to improve current assessment protocols for depression in patients with epilepsy. Her study also replicated previous studies establishing the prevalence of Major Depressive Disorder among these patients. Throughout her doctoral research, Dr. Wolkin was greatly concerned with the possible mechanistic links between these two neurological diseases. What, in other words, might be changed in the brain by epileptic seizures, and how might that influence how these patients should best be assessed and treated?

Current methods of diagnosing depression in people with epilepsy are often unreliable and underutilized. Raising awareness in the medical community about the common dual diagnoses of epilepsy and depression (and how and why these diseases co-exist in the brain) will help these patients receive the care they need.