Teen, adult epilepsy patients at higher risk of depression, says study

All teen and adult epilepsy patients should be screened regularly for depression as they are at a higher risk of developing the mental disorder, suggested two recent studies presented at the annual American Epilepsy Society conference held from Nov. 30, 2018 to Dec. 4, 2018.

According to Page Pennell of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, who was not a part of the study, these studies focus on the increased rates of depressive symptoms in epilepsy patients and the need to implement regular screening tools, like the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-9. The PHQ-9 is a simple test to determine if the participant is depressed and to what degree.

13% teens reported serious depressive symptoms

In the first study, from June 2017 to March 2018, the researchers assessed around 400 teen epilepsy patients, aged 15-18, for symptoms of depression. About half the teens were females. The study used the PHQ-9 Adolescent Version and found that 8 percent of the participants had moderate to moderately severe symptoms of depression whereas 5 percent either had suicidal thoughts or had tried to commit suicide before. Further, approximately 13 percent participants reported serious symptoms whereas 22 percent were at a risk of developing depressive symptoms.

The study results do not mean that 13 percent epilepsy patients have symptoms of depression, said co-author Dr. Susan Arnold, University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center. It means that a considerable number of teens require further evaluation and subsequent intervention.

52% adult epilepsy patients reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms

In the second study, the researchers assessed 120 adult epilepsy patients who had experienced an adverse health outcome like an accident or visiting the emergency room (ER). Data from a randomized controlled trial investigating the relationship between self-managing epilepsy, depressive symptoms and clinical depression was used. Even this study used the PHQ-9 questionnaire. The study concluded that 52 percent of the respondents had moderate to severe depression. It was also noticed that some of the respondents had other mental disorders like panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or bipolar disorder (BD).

The researchers also established a direct link between the inability to work and the chances of developing depression and its severity, frequency of seizures in a 30 day period and quality of life. Epilepsy patients with depression were more prone to seizures. Therefore, treating depression not only helped in alleviating depressive symptoms but also helped in managing epilepsy, said lead author Dr. Martha Sajatovic, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland.

The studies were aimed at studying the incidence of depression in children and teens with epilepsy. “We know that depression is more common in people with epilepsy compared to the general population, but there is less information about depression in children and teens than adults,” said lead author Hillary Thomas, a psychologist at the Children’s Health System, Dallas. “We are also not very sure of the factors that lead to an increase in the depressive symptoms.”

Seeking help for depression

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), depression affects more than 7.5 percent Americans, aged 12 years and over. A comprehensive depression treatment plan, comprising medications, therapies or a combination of both, can help manage the mental disorder effectively.

If you or a loved one are looking for depression treatment at a credible mental disorder treatment center, then get in touch with Medical Concierge. Our medical experts can offer you the requisite assistance and support and help you overcome the disorder. Call our 24/7 helpline (877) 636-0042 or chat online with our representative for more information about how you can achieve lasting recovery.

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