Among people with epilepsy, depression is one of the most common psychiatric disorders. A review of studies shows that between 32% and 48% of people suffer from depression. It impacts the quality of life and family functioning more even than seizure frequency.
Among the new studies being presented at the American Epilepsy Society's 66th annual meeting at the San Diego Convention Center, three are noteworthy because of their potential impact in the understanding and treatment of depression, and how epilepsy affects family functioning.
In the first study researchers from the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University applied a revised version of a home-based treatment method that has been used successfully in the treatment of depression among people with epilepsy, known as Project UPLIFT, to test its effectiveness for prevention of depression (Platform C.06). Among those who were recruited to participate, the incidence of major depression and depressive symptoms were significantly reduced, compared to treatment as usual.
"UPLIFT is based upon mindfulness and cognitive therapy. Our findings show that, using a preventive version of UPLIFT, we are able to prevent depression, reduce seizures, and improve quality of life-all at relatively low cost" said Nancy Thompson, the lead researcher of the study. "A further benefit is that the materials are delivered to individuals by telephone or Web, which reduces the health disparities for those with limited mobility or those living in rural areas" she continues.
This abstract has been selected from all submitted abstracts to receive The Rebecca Goldberg Kaufman Ethical Neuropsychiatry Award which serves to raise the consciousness of the importance of psychiatry in epilepsy care.
Another study by researchers from Cleveland Clinic aimed at quantifying and hence predicting depression and anxiety among women with epilepsy, a group with higher prevalence of mood disorders, anxiety disorders and suicide risk, using the MINI, a validated psychiatric diagnostic interview, was also presented (Abstract #2.284 ). 87 women with epilepsy were interviewed in Cleveland Clinic's Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. The researchers found that onset of epilepsy among older age women was a significant predictor of major depressive disorders.
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to use a systematic clinical diagnostic assessment tool (MINI) to determine prevalence and predictors of Axis I disorders and suicide risk in women with refractory epilepsy,, and the results show that larger studies exploring the causes of depression are warranted" says Sima Patel, a co-author of this pilot study.
The first study to examine if the social skills of the siblings of children with epilepsy are related to biological factors rather than only psycho-social factors such as coping skills, parenting and family functioning as had been previously assumed, was also presented at the conference (Abstract #1.307). The UCLA and Kaiser researchers compared MRI scans of 38 siblings of children with epilepsy that had social difficulties with 36 healthy control subjects. Rochelle Caplan and colleagues found that the poor peer interaction of the siblings was associated with structural abnormalities localized in a region of the brain involved in the integration of factual and emotional information, social decision-making, and emotional regulation.
The authors of these abstracts will be available at the briefing on Tuesday, December 4 at 8:15 am (PDT), in the onsite press room, Room 1A, upper level of the San Diego Convention Center. Briefing call-in number: Dial in on 1-866-740-1260; PIN 5867509#
About the American Epilepsy Society (AES): The American Epilepsy Society, based in West Hartford, Conn., seeks to advance and improve the treatment of epilepsy through the promotion of research and education for healthcare professionals. Society membership includes epileptologists and other medical professionals, allied healthcare professionals, and scientists concerned with the care of people who have seizure disorders.