Depression High Among People with Epilepsy

People with epilepsy seem to have a 43% higher chance of experiencing depression than the general population, according to a Canadian study (Fuller-Thomson & Brennenstuhl, 2008). This news was just recently covered by Science Daily, who pointed out that the figure is almost double the prevalence rate within the general population. The research also revealed that people with epilepsy of an advanced age, visible ethnic minority, or who were female or with less access to food, were even more likely to suffer from depression. The study found that 38% of of the depressed subgroup with epilepsy in this study had not seen a mental health practitioner in the past year. Depression can have devastating effects on both health and quality of life, yet is usually quite treatable.

The study was conducted on records from the Canadian Community Health Survey conducted in 2000 and 2001. The research also concluded that, “Visible minority and older age appear to be unique risk factors for depression in those with epilepsy as compared to those without” (Fuller-Thomson & Brennenstuhl, 2008). A representative sample of 781 records of survey participants with epilepsy were used to analyze prevalence of depression, health service use by patient-participants and correlations of epilepsy and demographics with depression. “Correlates of depression among those without epilepsy (n = 126,104) were also determined. Chi-square analyses, t-tests, prevalence ratios, and a logistic regression were conducted” (Fuller-Thomson & Brennenstuhl, 2008).

If you or someone you know has epilepsy, the best idea is to request an evaluation for depression and follow up with treatment by a mental health professional. Therapy and/or medications are very effective treatments. It’s recommended by the researchers that medical professionals assess their patients with epilepsy for depression.


  1. Fuller-Thomson, E. and Brennenstuhl, S. The association between depression and epilepsy in a nationally representative sample. Epilepsia, 2008, DOI: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2008.01803.x on Wiley Blackwell web site;
  2. Depression twice as likely in seizure sufferers, Science Daily, Mar 17, 2009, web site;

© Copyright 2009 by Jolyn Wells-Moran, PhD, MSW, therapist in Seattle, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Andrea


    April 6th, 2009 at 8:20 AM

    That is a very big percentage of depression among epilepsy. With the seizures and blackouts epilepsy has on these individuals, I’m sure it causes a lot of depression. This study was in 200 and 2001, I wonder if this percentage has increased?

  • Grayson


    April 6th, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    My boss has epilepsy and is also being treated for depression and has been for as long as I have known her now. Her seizures are very much under control as are the depressive symptoms but I have never given any thought that the two may somehow be interrelated.

  • martha


    April 7th, 2009 at 2:04 AM

    I have never thought of epilepsy and depression going together as well. It does make sense tho when you have a person who has the seizures and the problems associated with epilepsy to develop depression.

  • Edith


    April 8th, 2009 at 2:35 AM

    I’m sure epilepsy is a very depressing illness when you have to deal with it. The article really opened my eyes that many things in life causes depression.

  • Fallon


    April 8th, 2009 at 4:58 AM

    Epilepsy can have such a negative impact upon the lives of those who have it but do not have the seizures under control. It does not surprise me at all that these might be patients who experience higher than normal levels of depresison. Think about how debilitating this disease could be on your everyday life if you are not on the right medications to get the seizures under control and how you may go through life being afraid of what the next seizure may bring and if you or someone else will be hurt as a result. That would be a very heavy load to carry around with you all of the time.

  • Marianne


    April 9th, 2009 at 6:42 AM

    I once dated a guy who developed epilepsy after being in a bad car wreck. It totally changed his life and not for the better.

  • jill


    April 10th, 2009 at 8:22 AM

    I can’t imagine having to deal with this day in and day out. Depression is bad enough but to have both?

  • Starla


    April 13th, 2009 at 9:25 AM

    It is great to see when connections are finally made and things like this are put together to help so many others who have been brought so far down by this. Jill says it perfectly when she says that it is bad enough to have just one of these afflictions, epilepsy or depression, but to suffer with both at the same time has to be something akin to a bad nightmare. It seems like there has always been a focus on treating one disease at a time with little care for the other ways that these medical conditions could be adversely affecting your life. Doctors and researchers now seem a little more open to seeing what other possibilities may arise and are working to find better ways to treat these things together.

  • Megan


    April 29th, 2009 at 1:47 AM

    It’s easy to sympathize and empathize with them. When one lives with something which is not only crippling but also very embarassing as epilepsy it is not surprising that depression would be high. A lot of teens who have this receive no encouragement from peers to live a normal life. When you are treated like a disease you tend to fade away.

  • Laura


    April 30th, 2009 at 2:49 AM

    I have a sister who is so beautiful, well accomplished but who suffers from epilepsy. I know how her whole life has been a continuous struggle. Till date getting a date is a big problem. She has never been in a relationship longer than 2 months and it is so sad. She gets very depressed and is in fact in therapy for depression.

  • Peter


    May 16th, 2009 at 2:22 AM

    My name is Peter. I am 40 yrs. old. I discovered I had epilepsy when I was 12. It has devastated myself and my familys life. I dropped out of school in the 8th grade and had to homeschool myself because of seizures. I also developed alopecia due to the stress. I live with these problems in great fear. The one and only thing that keeps me here is my two beautiful girls. They mean the world to me

  • Holistic Healing

    Holistic Healing

    June 25th, 2009 at 4:35 PM

    Honestly this is my favourite blog ever.Nice content, Nice info and excellent writing style..

  • Justina


    November 21st, 2014 at 3:16 PM

    I’ve had epilepsy since I was 16 years old. I am 29 now and have depression and anxiety.

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on