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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention Deficit Disorder or Epilepsy

01/30/2008

Question:

Hi, I have epilepsy but have been off medication for 4 years now and have had no seizures for the past 6 years.

I recently took a few ADD tests and the results are always that I have ADD, the inattention subtype. I have been the same ever since I was a kid: I daydream, I panic if I have deadlines, I blurt out tactless answers, I have a very short attention span unless I`m doing something really interesting to me and many such symptoms that fit me like a glove. Is it from the epilepsy (I have temporal lobe partial complex) or is it ADD? Thank you

Answer:

Epilepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, of which ADD is a subtype) are distinctly different disorders with different treatments. However, they have in common lapses of attention. And there are two kinds of epilepsy (petit mal and absence seizures) that have attention lapses as the only or main symptom. The difference is that petit mal and absence seizures (which can occur with temporal lobe partial seizures) involve lack of conscious awareness ("in a trance"), whereas ADHD inattentiveness does not impair consciousness. Also, one might become sleepy after a seizure, even a temporal lobe partial seizure.

There are no diagnostic tests for ADHD as such; the diagnosis is made by clinical history and ruling out other causes of inattention. It sounds like you have undergone a diagnostic evaluation. If you are not comfortable with the results, you should ask for a second opinion. Your doctor should be willing to refer you for such, or you could seek it on your own. Then you should settle on a treatment plan.

For more information:

Go to the Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder health topic, where you can:

Response by:

L Eugene Arnold, MD, MEd L Eugene Arnold, MD, MEd
Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University