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Study finds depression common among people with epilepsy

29 September, 2004

Conditions such
epilepsy and asthma are associated with high rates of depression, yet
patients and doctors are often unaware of the problem, according to a
new study published in the journal Neurology.

The
study found that people with epilepsy (36.5 per cent) were more likely
than people with asthma (27.8 per cent) and ‘healthy' subjects (11.8
per cent) to experience symptoms of depression. However 35.8 per cent
of people with epilepsy who screened positive for depression never
consulted a doctor for depression and 43 per cent never took
prescription medication for depression.

Additionally,
the study found that depression among patients with epilepsy was also
significantly associated with being female and younger, having lower
income, lower rates of employment, more disability, more social
concerns and more side effects related to their anti-epileptic
medication.

Report author Dr Alan Ettinger, chief of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center Division of EEG and Epilepsy, said:

"Given
the enormous burden depression can have on epilepsy patients,
recognising the signs and treating the symptoms of depression in this
population is as important as treating the underlying condition itself.
Physicians evaluating individuals with epilepsy need to be aware of how
common it is for epilepsy patients to experience symptoms of depression
and how profound the combined impact of epilepsy and depression can be
on their quality of life.

"When
selecting an anti-epileptic treatment, clinicians should strongly
consider using agents that not only will help epilepsy but may also
improve symptoms of depression. Better treatment may also help these
patients improve their overall quality of life, particularly in work,
social and family domains."