OBJECTIVE: Parental depression significantly impacts children’s health and well-being. This study aimed to (1) estimate the prevalence of depressive symptoms, at six time points, among mothers over the first 10 years after their child was diagnosed with epilepsy; (2) identify trajectories of maternal depressive symptoms over time; and (3) identify baseline factors associated with each trajectory.
METHODS: Data came from the Health-Related Quality of Life in Children with Epilepsy Study (HERQULES), a Canada-wide prospective cohort study. Data on child, parent, and family characteristics were collected at the time of diagnosis, and follow-ups at 0.5, 1, 2, 8, and 10 years. Maternal depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Trajectories of depressive symptoms were evaluated using latent class growth modeling, and multinomial logistic regression was used to identify baseline factors associated with each trajectory.
RESULTS: A total of 356 mothers participated in the study, of whom 57% scored in the at-risk range for major depression disorder (period-prevalence). Four unique trajectories were identified as follows: “Low-Stable” (29% of mothers), “Intermediate-Stable” (46%), “High-Stable” (20%), and “High-Decreasing” (5%). Positive family environment was consistently associated with a better trajectory of depressive symptoms over time; other significant factors included type of seizures, child cognitive comorbidity, maternal age, and maternal education.
SIGNIFICANCE: A substantial proportion of mothers of children with epilepsy are at risk for depression, and this risk is stable over the long term. Family environment at the time of diagnosis has long-term and persistent effects and may be an ideal target for interventions.