December 6, 2018

Teens and Adults with Epilepsy at Increased Risk for Depression, Studies Show

Teens and adults with epilepsy are at higher risk for depression than the general population and should be screened regularly and provided therapy if needed, suggests research being presented at the American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting.

A study of teens with epilepsy found that 8 percent had moderate or severe depression and another 5 percent had attempted suicide or thought about it. In other research, more than half of adults with epilepsy who had suffered a negative health event (such as an emergency room visit or accident) suffered from moderate or severe depression. Findings from that study also suggest that people with epilepsy who have depressive symptoms may suffer from other mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder, and should be screened.

“People with epilepsy who have depression are more likely to have seizures, so treating the depression doesn’t just help with depression, but also with the epilepsy,” said Martha Sajatovic, M.D., lead author of the study of adults with epilepsy and director of the Neurological and Behavioral Outcomes Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland. “Identifying people with epilepsy who have depression or other mental health issues is half of the battle, and 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.”

About 7.6 percent of people in the general population have depression at any given time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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