Research from Canada has shed light on the potential risk of signs of depression being overlooked among patients with epilepsy.

The study, carried out by the University of Calgary and published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, has indicated that depression often remains undiagnosed or left untreated in this group, despite epilepsy patients are generally more likely to be affected by mental health issues. For this new research, the team assessed data from 185 people with epilepsy treated at a clinic in a city of 1.2 million people, using the gold-standard Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Disorders to assess current and past depression.

Meanwhile, patients’ treatment status for depression - including both pharmacological and nonpharmacological interventions – was ascertained through self-reporting and chart reviews.

It was found that 27 patients were currently experiencing depression, with the majority - 70.3 per cent - not receiving any depression-related treatment. Nonpharmacological management tended to be the most common approach among those who were receiving some form of care, followed by treatment with psychotropic medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Treatment tended to be more prevalent among individuals with a past history of depression, but who were not experiencing current episodes. It was also shown to be more common for these individuals to be treated with pharmacological measures.

After using an algorithm that adjusts the treated prevalence for those who are successfully treated, the adjusted proportion of depression treatment was 53.1 per cent. The researchers concluded: “The proportion of people treated for current depression in this cohort was very low. Future studies should investigate barriers to treatment and how depression treatment can be optimised for those with epilepsy.”

Depression can be a potentially serious issue for epilepsy patients, as past studies have shown that mental health issues can make it less likely that individuals will stick to their prescribed epilepsy treatment regimens – thus harming their chances of ultimately achieving a positive outcome. This is why it is important that mental comorbidities are properly recognised and addressed.

This article is from Epilepsy Research UK:


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