Category: Adult Anxiety

Symposium

The Role of Anxiety Sensitivity in Terms of Seizure Presence and Quality of Life Among Individuals With Epilepsy

Sunday, November 19
9:45 AM - 10:45 AM
Location: Indigo Ballroom B, Level 2, Indigo Level

Keywords: Anxiety Sensitivity | Behavioral Medicine
Presentation Type: Symposium

Epilepsy is characterized by seizures resulting from abnormal electronic signaling in the brain. Uncontrolled epilepsy is associated with more frequent ED visits and hospitalizations (Manjunath et al., 2012) and substantial healthcare costs. Moreover, people with epilepsy report elevated stigmatization are 2-3 times more likely to have difficulty affording medication, mental health care, and to report lost workdays (Baker et al., 1997; Thurman et al., 2016). One primary contributor to uncontrolled epilepsy is anxiety psychopathology, which occurs in approximately half of all epilepsy patients (Beyenberg et al., 2005). Indeed, anxiety is associated with greater seizure frequency and poorer QOL (Choi-Kwon et al., 2003; Kimiskidis et al., 2007). Despite these associations, there has been little exploration of the role of anxiety-related cognitive risk factors, such as anxiety sensitivity (AS), in epilepsy. This lack of attention is unfortunate as AS is associated with significant functional impairment other medical conditions where anxiety is common (e.g., asthma; Avallone et al., 2012). Thus, the aim of the current study was to examine the unique predictive ability of AS in terms of seizure presence and epilepsy-related QOL among 49 adults with epilepsy (Mage = 48.53, SD = 15.91; 63.3% female; 91.8% Caucasian). Contrary to hypotheses, after controlling for the effects of negative affect (NA), AS did not significantly predict seizure presence. Consistent with hypotheses, after controlling for the effects of NA and seizure presence, AS significantly predicted overall QOL (8.8% variance, β = -.36, p < .05) as well as the specific domains of: seizure worry (22.9% variance, β = -.58, p < .01), medication effects (15.6% variance, β = -.48, p < .01), cognitive functioning (10.7% variance, β = -.40, p < .05), and social concerns (14.5% variance, β = -.46, p < .01). Thus, individuals with epilepsy who are more fearful of arousal-related sensations do not experience more seizures, but do experience poorer QOL, particularly in terms of symptom management, cognitive functioning, and social functioning, and interventions that target AS may be beneficial for this population. 

Adrienne L. Johnson

Graduate Student
University of Cincinatti

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