Psychosocial complications in juvenile myoclonic epilepsy

Marte Syvertsen*, Kaja Selmer, Ulla Enger, Karl O. Nakken, Deb K. Pal, Anna Smith, Jeanette Koht

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JME) constitutes about 10% of all epilepsies. Because of executive dysfunction, people with JME may be prone to impulsivity and risk-taking behavior. Our aim was to investigate whether psychosocial issues associated with impulsivity are more prominent in people with JME than in those with other types of genetic generalized epilepsy (GGE). Patients with GGE were recruited retrospectively through the Drammen Hospital records in Buskerud County, Norway, 1999–2013. They were invited to a semi-structured interview, either at the hospital or at home. Ninety-two patients with JME and 45 with other types of GGE were interviewed. Variables were evaluated in terms of their association with JME versus other GGE diagnosis using a logistic regression model. Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy was associated with use of illicit recreational drugs and police charges, although with borderline significance (odds ratio [OR] 3.4, p = 0.087 and OR 4.2, p = 0.095); JME was also associated with being examined for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in females (OR 15.5, p = 0.015), a biological parent with challenges like addiction or violent behavior (OR 3.5, p = 0.032), and use of levetiracetam (OR 5.1, p = 0.014). After controlling for group differences, we found psychosocial complications to be associated with JME, potentially influencing the lives of the individuals and their families to a greater extent than the seizures per se. Thus, JME should be considered a disorder of the brain in a broader sense than a condition with seizures only.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Early online date22 Jan 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jan 2019


  • ADHD
  • Epilepsy
  • Executive dysfunction
  • Frontal lobe
  • Levetiracetam
  • Recreational drugs


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