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Depressive Disorder More Common in Women With Epilepsy Than Men


June 13, 2018

Major depressive disorder (MDD) prevalence among individuals with epilepsy who are managed in epilepsy clinics is estimated to be over 20% and is higher among women than among men, according to a recent study.

Comorbid depression in patients with epilepsy may have a negative impact on treatment outcomes and quality of life. Associated effects include irritability, fatigue, and thoughts of suicide. Authors of the study published in Epilepsy & Behavior performed a meta-analysis to estimate the prevalence of MDD in people with epilepsy who are treated at epilepsy clinics (2018;84:56-69).

After screening and rescreening compiled data, 35 studies from 1996 to 2017 were included in the analysis and included a total of 5434 patients with epilepsy. The most commonly used method for the diagnosis of MDD among the studies was the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Inventory (27 of 35 studies), followed by the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition axis I disorders (6 of 35 studies) and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (2 of 35 studies).

The point prevalence of MDD was 25.6% (95% CI, 21.6-30.2) in Africa, 21.4% (95% CI, 19.5-23.5) in Asia, 23.1% (95% CI, 18.5-28.4) in Australia, 22.7% (95% CI, 20.7-24.0) in Europe, 15.9% (95% CI, 13.5-18.6) in North America, and 24.9% (95% CI, 21.3-28.8) in South America.

The prevalence of MDD among individuals with epilepsy was found to be 21.9%, and prevalence was higher among men than women. Authors feel that this relatively high prevalence rate points to a need for measures to identify and resolve MDD in individuals with epilepsy, with special attention paid to women.

Amanda Del Signore


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