Depressive symptoms in patients with epilepsy and clinically associated features in a single tertiary center

Neurol Sci. 2022 Mar;43(3):1965-1974. doi: 10.1007/s10072-021-05589-1. Epub 2021 Sep 15.


Although depressive symptoms are the most common psychiatric comorbidity in epilepsy, they remain underestimated and untreated in a large proportion of patients. The purpose of this study was to evaluate depression severity and related clinical features in people with epilepsy using a well-reliable self-report index of mood, the Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II). One-hundred seventeen adult patients with epilepsy were recruited from a tertiary epilepsy center and completed the BDI-II. A single-item analysis of the 21 questions of the BDI-II was computed and differences between women and men in each depressive symptom were evaluated. Correlation and regression analyses were used to identify clinical features associated with the severity of depression. Results showed gender differences in some items, with women reporting overall higher depression severity than men. The most common symptoms regarded domains of sleeping patterns, tiredness, and loss of energy. Regression evidence suggested that being female, having an epilepsy duration < 10 years, as well as being treated with psychotropic drugs and reporting generalized seizure, were associated with higher depression severity. Despite its cross-sectional nature, this study reinforces the importance of investigating and possibly treating depressive symptoms in adult patients with epilepsy, since they negatively impact well-being, daytime activities, and sleep. Further studies identifying pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for depression in epilepsy need to be planned.

Keywords: Adulthood; BDI-II; Comorbidity; Depressive symptoms; Generalized seizure.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression* / diagnosis
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Epilepsy* / complications
  • Epilepsy* / drug therapy
  • Epilepsy* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Seizures / complications