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Memory deficits and depression in patients with chronic epilepsy

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Objective: In this retrospective study, we tested the hypothesis that patients with epilepsy (PWE) with moderate to major depression have more severe memory deficits than PWE with mild depression or no depression.

Methods: Hundred and thirty‐nine patients with chronic epilepsy were studied with the Self‐Rating Depression Scale (SDS) and a neuropsychological‐screening battery the day after admission on a specialised ward for PWE. For this study the data from the Memo‐test for verbal memory and from the Benton‐test for non‐verbal memory were taken into account. For testing of the hypothesis of independence of memory deficits and grade of depression we performed a statistical analysis.

Results: Eighty‐three patients (59.7%) had a pathological score in the SDS, but only 36 (25.9%) scored in the range of a moderate to major depression. When all 83 patients with a pathological score in the SDS were taken into account, these patients did not differ on any cognitive measure from those without pathological score in SDS. The only significant association in our study was found between pathological results in immediate verbal recall and a score in the SDS for moderate to major depression (p = 0.038).

Conclusion: Minor depressive symptoms may be a response to chronic illness without any impact on cognitive functioning. Nevertheless, a verbal memory deficit associated with major depression was observed in our study even in the presence of many confounding factors. This may be a hint for an association of severe depressive symptoms with left temporal dysfunction in PWE.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Institut für Biostatistik und Informatik in Medizin und Alternsforschung, Universität Rostock, 18057 Rostock, Germany 2: Epilepsiezentrum Bodensee, 88214 Ravensburg-Weissenau, Germany

Publication date: 2012-08-01

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