Depressive Symptoms Among Mothers of Children With Epilepsy: A Review of Prevalence, Associated Factors, and Impact on Children

Epilepsia. 2009 Nov;50(11):2344-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2009.02276.x. Epub 2009 Aug 19.


The impact of epilepsy is not limited to the child experiencing seizures, but affects all members of the family. As primary caregivers, mothers are particularly at risk for experiencing increased depressive symptoms and risk for clinical depression. The objective of this systematic review was to critically assess available evidence regarding the prevalence, associated factors, and impact of maternal depressive symptoms on child outcomes in epilepsy. Using a modified version of the Quality Index, studies were rigorously evaluated in terms of reporting, external validity, and internal validity. Limitations in the study designs and analytic techniques of previous research are discussed, and study methods to overcome these barriers are presented in order to advance this research area. Up to 50% of mothers of children with epilepsy are at risk for clinical depression. Correlates of maternal depressive symptoms include a number of modifiable risk factors such as role ambiguity, worry, and satisfaction with relationships. In addition, studies suggest that depressive symptoms in mothers have a negative impact on child outcomes in epilepsy including behavior problems and health-related quality of life. The overall mean score on the Quality Index was 9.7, indicating a midrange quality score, suggesting a need for more methodologically robust studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Epilepsy / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Epilepsy / rehabilitation
  • Family Health
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires