Epileptics frequently suffer from anxiety and depression, but experts aren’t completely sure why, according to a recent study.
The study, “Anxiety and Depressive Disorders in People with Epilepsy: A Meta-Analysis” was published in the journal Epilepsia.
“It is often thought that depression is more common than anxiety in people with epilepsy,” Louise Sharpe, the study’s author, said in a news release. “Our results suggest that in clinical practice depression is more often diagnosed than anxiety disorders. However, in studies using structured interviews, depression and anxiety were equally common.”
The study aimed to investigate the prevalence and moderating factors of anxiety and depressive disorders among epileptics. To do so, researchers reviewed 27 previously published studies on the topic; they also analyzed other parameters that could influence their study, such as the method of diagnosis or prevalence of drug-resistant epilepsy.
Researchers found that 20.2 percent of epileptics had anxiety disorders and 22.9 percent suffered from depression, yet they saw no differences in the prevalence of either condition based on the severity of their illness.
How anxiety disorder was diagnosed had a big influence on its prevalence; unstructured clinician assessments resulted in a prevalence of 8.1 percent, while a structured clinical interview yielded a prevalence of 27.3 percent.
“This suggests that people with epilepsy who have anxiety may be under-diagnosed in practice,” said Sharpe. “We need to understand more about anxiety in epilepsy so that it can be identified more readily and effective treatments can be developed.”
The study’s findings also challenge the assumption that psychiatric disorders are more common in people with drug-resistant epilepsy. Researchers said the detection and management of such disorders — particularly anxiety disorders — among epileptics remains neglected.
Depression is defined as a state of mind that produces serious, long-term lowering of enjoyment of life or inability to visualize a happy future. Anxiety is characterized by an unpleasant state of mental uneasiness, nervousness, apprehension and obsession or concern about some uncertain event.