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Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures: aetiology, diagnosis and management

  • Maria Oto and Markus Reuber
Summary

Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) have a significant impact on most patients in terms of distress, disability, loss of income and iatrogenic harm. Three-quarters of patients with PNES are initially misdiagnosed and treated for epilepsy. Misdiagnosis exposes patients to multiple iatrogenic harms and prevents them from accessing psychological treatment. In most cases, the patient's history (and witness accounts) should alert clinicians to the likely diagnosis of PNES. Since this diagnosis may be resisted by patients and may involve ‘un-diagnosing’ epilepsy, video-electroencephalogram recording of typical seizures is often helpful. The underlying causes of PNES are diverse: a model combining predisposing, precipitating and perpetuating factors is a useful way of conceptualising their aetiology. The initial step of treatment should be to limit iatrogenic harm. There is some evidence for the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Professor Markus Reuber, Department of Neurology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield S10 2JF, UK. Email: m.reuber@sheffeld.ac.uk
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Declaration of Interest

None.

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References
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Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures: aetiology, diagnosis and management

  • Maria Oto and Markus Reuber
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