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Seizure. 2001 Jan;10(1):34-8.

Biofeedback treatment in patients with refractory epilepsy: changes in depression and control orientation.

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Department of Neurology and Epileptology, Die WEISSENAU, Psychiatry I University of Ulm, 88213 Ravensburg, Germany.


Depression is a common and serious interictal problem in patients with epilepsy. The genesis of depressive disorders is multifactorial. One aetiological aspect focuses on psychosocial factors. It was hypothesized that uncontrollable, unpredictable chronic aversive events (i.e. epileptic seizures) result in cognitive deficits of external control orientation. If this is true, biofeedback training could represent a possible treatment strategy to lower depression, because biofeedback is known to mediate success experiences and control. Measures of depression and locus of control were administered to 20 patients with refractory partial epilepsy before and after biofeedback treatment. The biofeedback consisted of slow cortical potentials or breathing parameters in 10 patients each. A clear relationship occurred between depression and locus of control in the subjects. After biofeedback training control orientation moved towards a more internal locus of control. Also, depression scores were significantly reduced six months after training. Results show that in patients with refractory epilepsy depression is highly correlated with locus of control, in a way that external control orientation relates to high depression scores. Biofeedback is able to improve internal control orientation through personal success mediation.

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