Mental Health

October 18, 2021

Mental health screening in epilepsy

Sending survey tools to epilepsy patients before their clinic appointment doubled the numbers of patients who were diagnosed and treated for depression and anxiety disorders, Vanderbilt neurologists found.

Depression and anxiety disorders are common in patients with epilepsy and are associated with poorer quality of life. Despite recommendations for regular screening for these disorders, both are underdiagnosed and undertreated in patients with epilepsy. 

Jonah Fox, MD, and colleagues tested a novel screening method. They sent validated screening instruments (Neurological Disorders Depression Inventory for Epilepsy and Brief Epilepsy Anxiety Survey Instrument) through an EMR-linked portal to patients of four epileptologists prior to their clinic appointment. They compared 351 patients who received screening surveys to a historical control group. Of the 63% of patients who completed the surveys, 47.7% screened positive for depression, anxiety or both disorders. 

The screening strategy doubled the numbers of patients with epilepsy who were diagnosed and treated for depression and anxiety disorders, the researchers reported in Epilepsy & Behavior. The simple and easily applicable screening method could increase diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders and improve quality of life for patients with epilepsy.