December 31, 2019

Depression and Anxiety in Children with Epilepsy and Other Chronic Health Conditions: National estimates of Prevalence and Risk Factors

OBJECTIVE: This study estimates the national prevalence of depression and anxiety among children with epilepsy and determines which demographic variables and comorbidities increase the risk of these psychopathologies. It also compare the rates of depression and anxiety in pediatric epilepsy with those of other chronic health conditions in childhood.

METHODS: This team used the 2009-2010 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs to identify children with epilepsy with and without depression and anxiety. They assessed demographic factors and comorbidities associated with depression and anxiety using weighted multivariable logistic regressions. The rates of psychiatric comorbidity in children with chronic conditions other than epilepsy were also determined.

RESULTS: The final sample included 1042 children over the age of five with epilepsy. After applying the sampling weights, we estimated that 283,000 children between 5 and 17 years of age have epilepsy in the United States (U.S.). Among these children, 25% have depression and/or anxiety. This figure was not significantly different from the rates seen among children with asthma (16.5%) or allergies (21.6%) but was significantly lower than the rate seen among children with migraines (43.2%). In our analyses of children with epilepsy, low-income children (regardless of race) and children whose needs for specialist care were unmet (relative to those whose needs were met) were more likely to have depression. Low-income black children were less likely to have anxiety than high-income white children. Gender, age, and epilepsy severity were unrelated to depression or anxiety.

CONCLUSIONS: One in four U.S. children with epilepsy has depression and/or anxiety. Therefore, physicians should consider the various factors that are related to depression and anxiety in children with epilepsy so that at-risk children can be screened and managed appropriately.

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