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Depression in epilepsy: recognition and treatment

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1 Depression in epilepsy: recognition and treatment
Lorna Myers, Ph. D. Director of Clinical Neuropsychology Northeast Regional Epilepsy Group

2 Epilepsy and psychiatric disorders
50-60% of patients with chronic epilepsy have depressive or anxiety disorders No known association between depression and seizure type, frequency, duration, or age of seizure onset Left temporal or frontal lobe epilepsy exhibits a greater association to depression

3 Epilepsy and psychiatric disorders
Suicide: 10 times higher than in the general population and 25 times higher in complex partial seizures (temporal lobe) Depression in epilepsy impacts quality of life more than other medical issues Depression can worsen seizure control and treatment success

4 Why so much depression in epilepsy?
Psychological reaction to epilepsy (sadness, hopelessness, change in life) Social factors (lost driver’s license, job, loss of control) Secondary medication effects (eg. polypharmacy, high doses, sudden discontinuation)

5 Why depression in epilepsy
The effect of electrical discharges in or near the brain structures and systems that control emotion Severity of seizures Medically refractory seizures

6 Depression in children
Depression rates are higher in children with epilepsy-even in more benign epilepsies (i.e. Absences, benign rolandic) Sometimes there are important discrepancies between parental and child ratings Bullying Academic difficulties

7 Depression in women Considerably higher rates of depression than in men Specific differences in hormonal activity Internalizing tendencies

8 Depression in older persons with epilepsy
Depression in this population is also elevated More research needed

9 Depression in different ethnicities
Hispanics with epilepsy have a higher rate of depression than American born patients with epilepsy Other ethnic groups may be similarly inclined: future studies needed

10 Facts about Depression
Depression can affect people of all ages Depression can affect all SES Depression can affect all races and ethnicities (although it may be expressed differently) Genders: the ratio of women to men is 2:1

11 Important Facts about depresison
Over 80% of those treated for depression improve. Nearly half of all people who are depressed do not receive the appropriate treatment because they are not correctly diagnosed Severe depression is associated to decline in mental function as time passes

12 What should I be looking for?
Depressed mood almost all day long Reduced interest in activities or people Weight change (5% in one month) Insomnia/hypersomnia Motor retardation or activation Fatigue Guilt or low self worth Concentration problems Suicidal thoughts or acts

13 What should I be looking for?
Unreasonable feelings of guilt Feeling “less than” compared to others Irritability Feelings of hopelessness Decrease in sexual desire

14 Treatments for clinical range depression/anxiety
Prescription of psychiatric meds with the epileptologist’s blessing Talk-therapy with a psychologist/social worker Close monitoring by the epileptologist especially if there is a connection between epilepsy and mood

15 Treatments for clinical range depression/anxiety
Family therapy and psychoeducation Vagal Nerve Stimulator (FDA approved for mood disorders) For refractory major depression: Electro shock (ECT) or Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)

16 Psychotherapy An objective listener Problem solving Learn:
that what we think affects our feelings to detect negative thoughts and defuse them Positive psychology exercises Mindfulness approaches Relaxation exercises

17 Alternative treatments
Must consult with doctor prior to taking any of the following herbs/supplements: St. John’s Wort, Echinacea, Valerian-they have the potential to interact with AEDs Careful with some hands on techniques (thai massage, cranio sacral massage, chiropraxis). Consult your doctor.

18 What can I do to help myself?
Exercise: yoga, pilates, non-aerobic physical exercise, weight lifting under supervision). 30’ per day improves mood Diet: consult with nutritionist: proper calorie intake, fruits, vegies, whole wheat, low fat meats Treatment for sleep disorder Attend epilepsy support group and activities

19 Achieving Optimism Gratitude (Which three people in your life have most helped you. Write them a letter, call them, write about them)

20 How do I work on my stress levels?
Breathing exercises (when nervous, we breathe fast, shallow. When calm, we breathe slow and deep) Autogenic training Deep muscle relaxation

21 Thank you! Be well

22 References and resources
Psychiatric Issues in Epilepsy, Edited by Ettinger, A & Kanner A (2001). Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins NIMH (6464) Autogenic training ( Deep muscle relaxation ( )

23 References and resources
Depression in elderly patients with epilepsy (2010) Olgica Laban-Grant, E. Fertig, J. Kanter, H. Husaini, L. Myers and M. Lancman

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