Examining clinically relevant levels of depressive symptoms in mothers following a diagnosis of epilepsy in their children: a prospective analysis

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2012 Sep;47(9):1419-28. doi: 10.1007/s00127-011-0447-8. Epub 2011 Nov 9.


Objectives: The objectives were to (1) document the risk of clinical depression in mothers in the 24 months after epilepsy diagnosis in their children, (2) determine whether the probability of risk of clinical depression changes over time, and (3) identify factors predictive of risk of clinical depression.

Methods: Data were obtained from the Health Related Quality of Life in Children with Epilepsy Study, a national prospective study of children 4-12 years old with new-onset epilepsy followed for 24 months. Risk-free survival was calculated using the life table approach. Binary sequence modeling for longitudinal data was implemented to identify risk factors.

Results: A total of 210 mothers were included in the analysis. Twenty-eight percent of mothers without clinically relevant levels of depressive symptoms at baseline were at risk for clinical depression by 24 months. The probability for risk of clinical depression and associated 95% confidence intervals by 6, 12, and 24 months was 0.13 (0.08, 0.18), 0.12 (0.07, 0.17), and 0.19 (0.10, 0.27), respectively. Significant predictors (p < 0.01) of risk of clinical depression during follow-up quantified using odds ratios (OR) were maternal age (OR = 0.94), number of anti-epileptic drugs child was prescribed (OR = 1.41), family functioning (OR = 0.83), family resources (OR = 0.93), and family demands (OR = 1.10).

Conclusions: Risk of clinical depression in mothers after their child is diagnosed with epilepsy is common and relatively stable over time. Modifiable risk factors may present avenues for intervention to improve the mental health of mothers of children with epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult