The overlapping relationship among depression, anxiety, and somatic symptom disorder and its impact on the quality of life of people with epilepsy

Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2022 Dec 8:15:17562864221138147. doi: 10.1177/17562864221138147. eCollection 2022.


Background: Emotional disorder is an important indicator for assessing the quality of life (QOL) of people with epilepsy (PWE). Depression, somatic symptom disorder (SSD) and anxiety are among the most frequently occurring mental disorders and overlap with each other.

Objectives: This study examines the overlap of these three emotional disorders and their effects separately and in combination on the QOL of PWE.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Data sources and methods: Adults attending our epilepsy clinic between 1 July 2020 and 1 May 2022 were consecutively enrolled. They were screened for depression, SSD, and anxiety by structured interviews, and demographic, epilepsy-related and QOL indicators were collected. Multivariate analysis, propensity score matching (PSM) and stratified analysis were used to explore the effects of their respective and combined effects on QOL.

Results: Among the 749 patients, 189 patients (25%) were diagnosed with depression, 183 patients (24%) were diagnosed with SSD, and 157 patients (21%) were diagnosed with anxiety. The frequency of occurrence of each emotional disorder together with other emotional disorders was higher than the frequency of occurrence of an emotional disorder alone. Depression, SSD, and anxiety all had an independent effect on QOL of PWE (p < 0.001). Depression had the greatest effect, followed by SSD, and then anxiety (β: multivariate analysis, -11.0 versus -7.8 versus -6.5; PSM, -14.7 versus -9.4 versus -6.8). The QOL of PWE decreased more significantly with the increasing number of comorbid emotional disorders (β: -12.1 versus -20.7 versus -23.0).

Conclusion: It is necessary to screen for three emotional disorders, that is, depression, SSD, and anxiety, in PWE. Attention should be paid to people with multiple comorbid emotional disorders.

Keywords: QOL; comorbidity; emotional disorder; risk factors; seizure.