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Therapy of depression in patients with focal epilepsy: experience with citalopram use

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Objective: to evaluate the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of citalopram (pram, «Lannacher Heilmittel, Austria) used to treat depressive disorders in adult patients with symptomatic or cryptogenic (presumptively symptomatic) focal epilepsy.

Subjects and methods. One hundred and twenty-one patients with symptomatic or cryptogenic (presumptively symptomatic) focal epilepsy were examined; 24 patients were found to have varying symptoms of depression. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) was used as a screening test for the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Citalopram was given orally for the treatment of depressive disorder. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) was used to evaluate the efficiency of the performed therapy and to estimate the time course of changes in parameters. Quality of life was estimated by the special QOLIE-31 questionnaire. The duration of the follow-up was 12 weeks.

Results. The study enrolled 24 patients (14 women and 10 men). Their mean age was 47.5±7.6 years; the duration of epilepsy was 9.71±3.15 years. The first visit showed a pronounced preponderance of the symptoms of anxiety according to the HADS: the mean scores for anxiety and depression were 13.38±2.15 and 11.19±3.28, respectively. After citalopram therapy, the mean scores for anxiety and depression decreased to 6.19±2.60 and 7.58±1.86, respectively. During the first visit, the mean Hamilton depression score was 21.73±3.19 and that was 14.60±2.19 and 11.18±2.33 after 30 days and 12 weeks of citaloprom therapy, respectively. Analysis of the time course of changes in quality of life indicators during citalopram therapy, by applying the QOLIE-31 scale, revealed a significant increase in their total scores 2 and 3 months following the treatment with unchanged antiepileptic therapy. There was an inverse correlation between the total QOLIE-31 score for quality of life and the degree of depression rated by HDRS (r=-0.94, p<0.05) prior to and 12 weeks after citalopram therapy ((r=-0.92, p<0.05). No increases in the number of episodes were found in any of the patients.

Conclusions. By using the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram, the patients with focal epilepsy showed a regression in the symptoms of depression and anxiety and an improvement in the quality of life. At the same time none patient was found to have any increases in the number of attacks. The side effects of the therapy were few and short-time and required no drug discontinuation.

About the Authors

A. V. Lebedeva
Russian State Medical University
Russian Federation
Neurology and Neurosurgery Department One, Therapeutic Faculty

E. G. Melikyan
N.I. Pirogov National Medical Surgical Center
Russian Federation

Department of Neurology with Neurosurgery Course of Neurology


A. B. Gekht
Russian State Medical University
Russian Federation
Neurology and Neurosurgery Department One, Therapeutic Faculty


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For citation:

Lebedeva A.V., Melikyan E.G., Gekht A.B. Therapy of depression in patients with focal epilepsy: experience with citalopram use. Neurology, Neuropsychiatry, Psychosomatics. 2011;3(2):50-56. (In Russ.)

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