Research Findings

Expanding the Evidence Base: Treating Depression in Adults with Epilepsy

The success of the PEARLS Program in reducing depression and improving quality of life in older adults with minor depression and dysthymia led researchers at the University of Washington to seek to expand the evidence base by applying the PEARLS Program to adults with epilepsy. The epilepsy population may have similar functional limitations as the original PEARLS population of older adults, in part because of the transportation restrictions experienced by individuals who have seizures. Accordingly, researchers proposed that individuals with epilepsy and depression would also benefit from an in-home treatment like the PEARLS Program.

After 12 months, participants who received PEARLS were more likely to have reduced depression symptoms compared to those who received usual care.

As a result, researchers at the Health Promotion Research Center carried out another randomized controlled trial between 2006 and 2009, this time enrolling 80 adults with epilepsy and major depression, minor depression or dysthymia. Just as in the first trial, half of participants were randomly assigned to receive the PEARLS Program and half were randomly assigned to continue with their usual medical care. Preliminary findings suggest that individuals with epilepsy treated with the PEARLS Program were more likely to experience a reduction in depressive symptoms over 12 months as compared to those receiving usual care. Final study results have been accepted for publication in Epilepsy and Behavior.