Psychosocial predictors of depression and anxiety in patients with epilepsy: a systematic review

Milena Gandy*, Louise Sharpe, Kathryn Nicholson Perry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Background: People with epilepsy (PWE) have a high chance of experiencing depression and anxiety disorders over their lifetime. However, those most at risk are unknown. Psychosocial variables have been suggested as potentially important risk factors. A systematic review was conducted in order to critically assess available evidence regarding the psychosocial predictors of depression and anxiety in adults with epilepsy. Methods: Electronic databases searched were MEDLINE, PsycINFO and Web of Science. Studies were included if they assessed depressive or anxiety symptoms using a validated questionnaire, and controlled for the role of potentially important epilepsy factors. Eleven studies were identified and assessed for research standards using the Quality Index Scale (QIS). Results: Ten of the eleven studies found at least one significant predictor of depression and all six studies that assessed anxiety found one or more significant predictors. Limitations: Overall QIS score was only 7.5 out of 15, indicating significant design limitations of many included studies. There was also large variability between studies in measures used to assess psychosocial variables. Conclusion: Studies did not support the importance of attributional theory and stigma in the development of depression in epilepsy. There was inconsistent support for the role of illness representations but likely support for the role of stress and self-efficacy. Consistent support was found for the role of coping strategies and perceived social support. Given that psychosocial factors are potentially modifiable, a better understanding of their role in the development of depression in people with epilepsy is urgently needed to guide effective treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-232
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • anxious
  • depressive
  • psychopathology
  • quality Index
  • risk


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