Epilepsy and Depression and Anxiety, Oh My!

Andrew N. Wilner, MD


July 01, 2014

New Treatment Tools for Psychiatric Conditions

To address the common problem of psychiatric comorbid conditions, Philip Gattone, MEd, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Epilepsy Foundation, Landover, Maryland, encouraged practitioners to take advantage of 2 new programs offered by the Epilepsy Foundation: PEARLS (Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives) and Project UPLIFT (Using Practice and Learning to Increase Favorable Thoughts), which are collaborative programs with the Epilepsy Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Managing Epilepsy Well (MEW) Network.[6]

PEARLS consists of eight 50-minute sessions followed by 3-4 follow-up telephone calls designed to treat major depression, minor depression, and dysthymic disorder in adults with epilepsy. Project UPLIFT is also designed for adults with epilepsy. It lasts 8 weeks and can be accessed by phone or Internet.

Step 1: Raising Awareness

There is an overwhelming consensus that comorbid conditions negatively affect many people with epilepsy and need to be addressed to improve their quality of life. Psychiatric comorbid conditions in particular, such as depression and anxiety, may often be overlooked. Given the limitations of time, training, and resources, the treatment of psychiatric comorbid conditions in people with epilepsy represents a challenge for neurologists.

Heightened awareness and increased training are required. Clinical tools, such as PEARLS and UPLIFT, are currently available and should be applied when appropriate. To learn more about these resources, contact the Epilepsy Foundation.


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