CBT for Patients with Epilepsy and Depression

A recent literature review published in Epilepsia examined the effectiveness of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) as a treatment for depression in individuals with epilepsy (PWE). The systematic and qualitative review investigated both randomized controlled trials (RCTs), as well as case series via OVID. Databases utilized in this review included MEDLINE, PsychINFO, and the Cochrane EBM Reviews. All of the studies featured subjects with epilepsy, employed CBT, included a valid outcome measure for depression, and had been published in the English language, in a peer-reviewed journal. Two different researchers worked independently to determine if studies met the above inclusion criteria.

The researchers analyzed 14 distinct outcome papers in the literature review. These included 13 CBT trials, of which 6 were randomized controlled trials and 7 were case series. In half (3 of 6)of the RCTS, positive effects of CBT on depression were reported. A review of content revealed that the effective RCTs specifically tailored CBT to improve depression. Two of three RCTs that failed to find depression-related effects focused on improving seizure-control. This pattern was also observed in the case series investigated in this review. Overall this review suggests that CBT may be an effective treatment for depression in patients with Epilepsy. Given the small number of studies included in this review and methodological limitations, further research is warranted.


Gandy, M., Sharpe, L., & Perry , K. (2013). Cognitive behavior therapy for depression in people with epilepsy: a systematic review. Epilepsia, 54(10), 1725-34. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2013.06.096

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