A Trial of Sertraline or Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Depression in Epilepsy

Frank G. Gilliam, Kevin J. Black, Jewell Carter, Kenneth E. Freedland, Yvette I. Sheline, Wei‐Yann Tsai, Patrick J. Lustman
  • Annals of Neurology, August 2019, Wiley
  • DOI: 10.1002/ana.25561

Treating depression in epilepsy: a controlled trial

What is it about?

140 adults with epilepsy and current major depression were assigned to the antidepressant medication sertraline or to weekly cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression (CBT). Both groups responded well to treatment, overall, in terms of depression and quality of life, and neither treatment worsened seizures or suicidality.

Why is it important?

Limited evidence was available to guide treatment of major depression for people with epilepsy, and there were concerns that some antidepressant medications might provoke seizures.


Dr Kevin J. Black
Washington University in St. Louis

I really enjoyed being a part of this study. One fascinating result from the study was that patients whose depression remitted during the course of (either) antidepressant treatment also saw a decrease in their generalized seizures. As I tell patients all the time, "you only have one brain," and when it's depressed, other brain problems will probably be worse, too.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Kevin J. Black