Depression and Altered Quality of Life in Women with Epilepsy of Childbearing Age

Ettore Beghi, Maurizio Roncolato, Giovanni Visonà

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To calculate the prevalence of depression in a referral population of women of childbearing age, to define the factors associated with depression, and to assess health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in the same population. Methods: The 642 consecutive women with epilepsy aged 18-55 years were enrolled by 40 neurologists over an 8-month period and asked to give details on selected demographic and clinical features regarding the disease, any associated clinical condition, and any drug treatment. Depression was diagnosed by using the Hamilton depression scale and HRQOL was measured through the SF-36 form. Demographic, clinical, and therapeutic risk factors for depression were searched for within the study population. Results: Depression (any severity) was present at interview in 242 women, giving a prevalence rate of 37.7% [95% confidence interval (CI), 33.9-41.6]. Mild depression was reported by 18.5% of women, moderate depression by 8.6%, major depression by 10.3%, and severe depression by 0.3%. Factors found to be independently associated with depression (any severity) included treatment of associated conditions [relative risk (RR), 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2-1.8), concurrent disability (RR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.0-1.6), seizures in the preceding 6 months (RR, 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.7), and being unemployed or a housewife (RR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.0-1.5). Factors associated with moderate to severe depression included treatment for associated conditions (RR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.4-2.7), seizures in the preceding 6 months (RR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.2-2.5), and being unemployed or a housewife (RR, 1. 6; 95% CI, 1.1-2.2). Compared with normal women of similar age, patients with epilepsy tended to present lower scores for each HRQOL domain (mostly Role Physical, General Health, Social Functioning, and Role Emotional). However, when the analysis was limited to nondepressed women with epilepsy, any difference disappeared. Conclusions: Women with epilepsy of childbearing age are at high risk of depression. Factors associated with depression include lack of occupation, the presence of an underlying disabling condition (with treatment), and the severity of epilepsy. Compared with the general population, depressed women have greater impairment of HRQOL with epilepsy, which reflects the physical, social, and emotional implications of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-70
Number of pages7
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


  • Depression
  • Epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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