Longitudinal changes in emotional functioning following pediatric resective epilepsy surgery: 2-Year follow-up

Epilepsy Behav. 2021 Jan;114(Pt A):107585. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.107585. Epub 2020 Dec 1.


Objective: To examine longitudinal changes and predictors of depression and anxiety 2 years following resective epilepsy surgery, compared to no surgery, in children with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE).

Method: This multicenter cohort study involved 128 children and adolescents with DRE (48 surgical, 80 nonsurgical; 8-18 years) who completed self-report measures of depression and anxiety at baseline and follow-up (6-month, 1-year, 2-year). Child demographic (age, sex, IQ) and seizure (age at onset, duration, frequency, site and side) variables were collected.

Results: Linear mixed-effects models controlling for age at enrolment found a time by treatment by seizure outcome interaction for depression. A negative linear trend across time (reduction in symptoms) was found for surgical patients, irrespective of seizure outcome. In contrast, the linear trend differed depending on seizure outcome in nonsurgical patients; a negative trend was found for those with continued seizures, whereas a positive trend (increase in symptoms) was found for those who achieved seizure freedom. Only a main effect of time was found for anxiety indicating a reduction in symptoms across patient groups. Multivariate regressions failed to find baseline predictors of depression or anxiety at 2-year follow-up in surgical patients. Older age, not baseline anxiety or depression, predicted greater symptoms of anxiety and depression at 2-year follow-up in nonsurgical patients.

Conclusion: Children with DRE reported improvement in anxiety and depression, irrespective of whether they achieve seizure control, across the 2 years following surgery. In contrast, children with DRE who did not undergo surgery, but achieved seizure freedom, reported worsening of depressive symptoms, which may indicate difficulty adjusting to life without seizures and highlight the potential need for ongoing medical and psychosocial follow-up and support.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Pediatric drug-resistant epilepsy; Resective surgery; Seizures.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression* / etiology
  • Epilepsy* / surgery
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome