EpLink study aims to alleviate depression in people with epilepsy

October 9, 2014

A study undertaken as part of the Ontario Brain Institute’s (OBI’s) EpLink program is seeking to provide help to people living with epilepsy who are also experiencing symptoms of depression.

An estimated 30 to 40 per cent of people living with epilepsy experience depression that often goes unrecognized and untreated, says EpUp lead investigator Kathryn Hum. It’s a widespread issue, but there are few existing programs to intervene, she adds.250

With this in mind, EpLink saw a need for further investigation, so resources have been devoted to address depression and mood disorders in people living with epilepsy.

“The main purpose of this study is really to see if we can improve symptoms of depression in people with epilepsy,” explains Hum.

The EpUp study aims to examine how psychoeducation programs that provide people with a better understanding of epilepsy, emotions and coping skills can improve emotional health in adults affected by the condition.

The study is divided into two parts. The first involves sending participants online questionnaires. The second component sees participants attend an eight-week psychoeducation program which is conducted by telephone.

The two psychoeducation programs consist of weekly sessions that will take place starting in mid-October to December. Following programs will be run January to February and March to April.

It was decided to host the program via telephone to increase access, since many people affected by a seizure disorder do not drive and many will be living outside of Greater Toronto.

Each session of the program is one hour long, one day per week. Participants can expect to learn skills and strategies designed to improve their symptoms of depression.

“What we would specifically like to see is an improvement in their depressive symptoms following their participation in the psychoeducation program,” Hum says.

The EpUp study will compare results from two different programs offered. Groups will consist of six to eight people and will be led by a licensed mental-health facilitator as well as a co-facilitator who is living with epilepsy.

Information garnered from the study may help better support people with epilepsy affected by mood disorders.

If you are a person living with epilepsy and would like to participate in the study, please contact Kathryn Hum at 416-978-0779, or by e-mail at khum(at)uhnresearch.ca.

Writer: Deron Hamel

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