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Functional non-epileptic attacks: essential information for psychiatrists

  • Rollo J.G. Sheldon (a1) and Niruj Agrawal (a2) (a3) (a4)

Abstract

Functional non-epileptic attacks (FNEA) are seizure-like events occurring in the absence of epilepsy. Having had many different names over the years including dissociative convulsions and pseudo-seizures, they now fall in the borderland between neurology and psychiatry, often not accepted by either specialty. However, there is evidence that there is a high rate of psychiatric comorbidity in these patients and therefore it is likely that psychiatrists will come across patients with FNEA and they should know the broad principles of assessment and management.

We have provided a clinically based overview of the evidence regarding epidemiology, risk factors, clinical features, differentiation from epilepsy, prognosis, assessment and treatment.

By the end of this article, readers should be able to understand the difference between epileptic seizures and FNEA, know how to manage acute FNEA, and understand the principles of neuropsychiatric assessment and management of these patients, based on knowledge of the evidence base.

Consent statement

Informed consent was obtained from the patient for publication of Box 1.

Declaration of interest

None.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dr Rollo Sheldon (rjgsheldon@doctors.org.uk)

References

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Functional non-epileptic attacks: essential information for psychiatrists

  • Rollo J.G. Sheldon (a1) and Niruj Agrawal (a2) (a3) (a4)
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