The association between depression and epilepsy in a nationally representative sample

Epilepsia. 2009 May;50(5):1051-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01803.x. Epub 2008 Oct 3.


Purpose: To determine the: (1) national prevalence of epilepsy and depression; (2) prevalence of depression among those with epilepsy; (3) odds ratio of depression among those with epilepsy compared to those without, controlling for demographic characteristics; (4) demographic correlates of depression among those with epilepsy and those without; and, (5) health services utilization of those with epilepsy and depression.

Methods: The full sample of the nationally representative 2000/2001 Canadian Community Health Survey (n = 130,880) was used to determine prevalence of epilepsy and depression. A subsample of 781 individuals reporting an epilepsy diagnosis and with complete depression data was used to determine prevalence and correlates of depression, and health service utilization patterns. Correlates of depression among those without epilepsy (n = 126,104) were also determined. Chi-square analyses, t-tests, prevalence ratios, and a logistic regression were conducted.

Results: Thirteen percent of those with epilepsy were depressed, in comparison to 7% of those without (p < 0.001). Epilepsy was associated with 43% higher odds of depression when adjusting for demographic factors. The odds of depression among individuals with epilepsy were higher for females, visible minorities, older individuals, and individuals experiencing food insecurity. Visible minority and older age appear to be unique risk factors for depression in those with epilepsy as compared to those without. Thirty-eight percent of depressed respondents with epilepsy had no consultations with a mental health professional in the previous year.

Discussion: Medical professionals need to regularly assess levels of depression in their patients with epilepsy. This research helps guide which risk groups should be targeted.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires