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To test the cognitive diathesis-stress and mediational components of the theory of learned hopelessness in youth with epilepsy.Seventy-seven participants ages 9–17 (35 girls, 42 boys) completed measures of depressive symptoms, hopelessness, self-efficacy for seizure management, and attitude toward epilepsy. Caregivers provided information on seizure activity. Diagnostic and treatment information was obtained via medical record review.Regression analyses revealed that hopelessness mediated the attitude towards epilepsy–depressive symptom relationship. While attitude toward epilepsy and self-efficacy were independent predictors of depressive symptoms, the relationship of attitudes toward epilepsy and depressive symptoms was not enhanced with low self-efficacy for seizure management.Findings support the mediation component of the learned hopelessness theory in youth with epilepsy, suggesting the importance of interventions that assist youth in identifying epilepsy-related aspects of functioning over which they can realistically exercise control and challenging negative thoughts about situations they cannot control.