The psychosocial correlates of depressive disorders and suicide risk in people with epilepsy

Milena Gandy*, Louise Sharpe, Kathryn Nicholson Perry, Laurie Miller, Zoe Thayer, Janet Boserio, Armin Mohamed

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Despite considerable effort to identify correlates of psychopathology in people with epilepsy (PWE), research has yet to identify consistent predictors. We tested the association between factors predicted by a model of adjustment to illness and psychopathology in PWE. Methods: In 123 PWE recruited from a tertiary referral centre, we examined the cross-sectional relationship between psychosocial factors (illness representations, coping, self-illness enmeshment and self-efficacy) with depression and suicide risk, while controlling for condition-related and demographic factors. Results: Multivariate analyses confirmed previous findings showing that condition-related and demographic variables did not consistently account for unique variance in depression although employment status was found to be a significant predictor of suicide risk. In multivariate analyses escape-avoidance coping and the illness consequences subscale of the illness representation questionnaire predicted unique variance in both depression and suicide risk. Conclusion: The results provided partial support for a model of adjustment to illness. Specifically, those who believed epilepsy was serious and coped through avoidance were more likely to be depressed and report a current level of suicide risk. These results suggest that interventions that target coping strategies and illness representations may be warranted for PWE with psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Correlates
  • Mood
  • Psychopathology
  • Seizures


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