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Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures: What a Neurologist Should Know

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DOI: 10.4236/health.2014.616241    3,980 Downloads   4,940 Views Citations


Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are episodes of movement, sensation or behavior changes similar to epileptic seizures but without neurological origin. They are somatic manifestations of psychological distress. The aim of this article is to provide a comprehensive review of the practical aspects of this, most often misdiagnosed disorder, which will be of clinical relevance to all practicing neurologists. Patients with PNES are often misdiagnosed and treated for epilepsy for years, resulting in significant morbidity. Video-EEG monitoring is the gold standard for diagnosis. Five to ten percent of outpatient epilepsy populations and 20 to 40 percent of inpatient and specialty epilepsy center patients have PNES. These patients inevitably have comorbid psychiatric illnesses, most commonly depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other dissociative and somatoform disorders, and personality pathology, especially borderline type. Many have a history of sexual and physical abuse. 75 to 85 percent of patients with PNES are women. Although PNES can occur at any age, they typically begin in young adulthood. Treatment involves discontinuing antiepileptic drugs in patients without concurrent epilepsy and referring for appropriate psychiatric care. Additional larger controlled studies to determine the best treatment modalities are needed.

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Alsaadi, T. and Shahrour, T. (2014) Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures: What a Neurologist Should Know. Health, 6, 2081-2088. doi: 10.4236/health.2014.616241.

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