This paper studies depression in epilepsy and the value of learned helplessness theory as an explanatory model. In a pre-post design, 77 adult inpatients from an acute epilepsy clinic were examined. The treatment goal was to improve antiepileptic drug therapy. Newly developed questionnaires were used to look at epilepsy-specific control-beliefs and preattributions. Depression was measured with the German depression scale D-S' by von Zerssen. Additional data were gathered from the medical files and by direct patient questioning. Data were analyzed by bivariate methods and multiple stepwise regression analyses. As a result of cross-sectional analyses, helplessness measures correlated with depression. Subjects' mean depression scores were slightly higher than the norm. However, analyses of the pre-post relations cast doubt on the expected etiologic influence of control and attribution variables. T2-depression was better predicted by the result of antiepileptic treatment and by T1-depression. Thus, the findings only partially uphold helplessness theory as the explanation for depression in epilepsy. On the whole, they are seen as compatible with coping concepts that stress feedback processes between disease-specific stressors, individual appraisal of these stressors, and emotions.
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