Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures
Si-co-jenn-ick Non-epp-ill-epp-tic See-zurs
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are seizure-like movements, sensations, or behaviors. PNES may seem similar to epileptic seizures. However, they have very different causes.
PNES is caused by mental health problems. This may include intense emotions, trauma, or stress. Other conditions like depression are also often present. It is not caused by problems with electrical signals in the brain.
Factors that may increase the risk of PNES include:
Risk factors specific to children include:
PNES symptoms may include:
PNES may differ from epilepsy in that PNES does not usually include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and past health. The doctor will ask questions about the seizure. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a doctor that specializes in the nervous system and the brain.
The doctor may suspect PNES based on your responses. To rule out other types of seizures the doctor may order:
Treatment is focused on the cause of PNES. Mental health problems may be treated with one or both of the following:
There is no known ways to prevent PNES.
Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy (CURE)
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
LaFrance WC Jr, Reuber M, Goldstein LH. Management of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. Epilepsia. 2013 Mar;54 Suppl 1:53-67
Non-epileptic seizures. Epilepsy Society website. Available at: https://www.epilepsysociety.org.uk/non-epileptic-seizures#.Vwe7rnpuN8E. Published July 2017. Accessed April 11, 2018.
Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated October 16, 2017. Accessed April 11, 2018.
The truth about psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. Epilepsy Foundation website. Available at:
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Accessed April 11, 2018.
Last reviewed April 2018 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 5/11/2018
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