Nonconvulsive status epilepticus precipitated by carbamazepine presenting as dissociative and affective disorders in adolescents

Carla Marini, Lucio Parmeggiani, Gabriele Masi, Gianluca D'Archangelo, Renzo Guerrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nonconvulsive status epilepticus can be confused with psychiatric disorders. Inappropriate drug treatment can represent a precipitating factor. We describe two patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy in whom nonconvulsive status epilepticus, aggravated by carbamazepine, was misdiagnosed as psychiatric disorder. A 14-year-old girl experienced a tonic-clonic seizure at age 12 years preceded by monthly episodes of confusion with awkward behavior since age 9 years. She was treated with carbamazepine, and the episodes of confusion became more frequent, leading to a diagnosis of dissociative disorder. An electroencephalogram during one of these episodes revealed nonconvulsive status epilepticus. Substitution of carbamazepine with valproic acid controlled the episodes of status epilepticus. A 23-year-old woman presented at age 16 years with a tonic-clonic seizure. Since early adolescence, she had had episodes of depressive mood, worsening of school performances, and facial tics. Carbamazepine treatment caused worsening of the depressive episodes and facial tics. An electroencephalogram during a typical episode revealed nonconvulsive status epilepticus. Carbamazepine substitution with valproate led to seizure freedom and behavioral improvement. Nonconvulsive status epilepticus should be suspected and searched for in patients with epileptic seizures and ictal or fluctuating behavioral disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-696
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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