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12/3/2018 8:17:27 PM

Depression is linked to seizure frequency in patients with epilepsy

NEW ORLEANS – Depression severity is correlated with seizure frequency and quality of life in adults with epilepsy, according to an analysis presented at the annual meeting of the American Epilepsy Society.

The conclusion comes from a study of 120 people with epilepsy, 62 of whom had at least moderate depression based on the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9). The Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM-R), Quality of Life in Epilepsy (QOLIE-10) and Charlson Comorbidity Index were used to assess patients’ health literacy, quality of life, and medical comorbidity, respectively

Among demographic characteristics, only inability to work was significantly associated with depression severity. Higher 30-day seizure frequency, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder were correlated with more severe depression severity. Medical comorbidity was not associated with increased risk of depression.

Identifying and treating psychiatric comorbidities should be part of the management of patients with epilepsy, said Martha X. Sajatovic, MD, director of the Neurological and Behavioral Outcomes Center at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, who presented the data. “Following up to ensure they receive treatment is vital, because it can truly change patient outcomes and help them achieve their best quality of life.”

The study findings are consistent with those of previous research indicating that people with symptoms of depression are more likely to have more frequent seizures and decreased quality of life, said Dr. Sajatovic.

“Health care providers should screen their epilepsy patients for depression, but they shouldn’t stop there,” she advised. “A person may have depressive symptoms that don’t reach the level of depression but should be assessed for other types of mental health issues that could easily be overlooked.”

Patients with epilepsy should respond to the PHQ-9 annually, or more frequently, if warranted, she added.

“It’s important that people with epilepsy who have depression or other mental health issues get treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy and medication,” said Dr. Sajatovic. “Even being in a self-management program helps, because the better they are at self management, the less likely they are to suffer negative health effects.”

This study was supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention SIP 14-007 1U48DP005030.