Harvard Mental Health Letter

Schizophrenia and epilepsy

Evidence suggests that these two brain disorders may share biological roots.

Auditory hallucinations. Unusual feelings or sensations. Dreamlike alterations in consciousness. These can be symptoms of both schizophrenia and epilepsy. Evidence continues to accumulate that the two brain disorders overlap in ways that researchers are still trying to understand.

In a paper, researchers at the China Medical University in Taiwan analyzed medical records stored in a national registry to determine how many people initially diagnosed with schizophrenia later developed epilepsy — and vice versa. The results suggest that people who develop one of these disorders are at heightened risk for the other. People with schizophrenia were nearly six times as likely to develop epilepsy compared with other people, while individuals with epilepsy were nearly eight times as likely to develop schizophrenia compared with other people.

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