When Your Seizures May Not Be Epilepsy - They May Be An Indicator Of PNES

If you have suffered from a seizure or a series of seizures, your neurology specialist may have diagnosed you with epilepsy. But if you find that you are not responding to medications or other prescribed treatments, what you have may not actually be epilepsy. You may be suffering from Psychogenic non-epileptic (PNES) seizures. What is PNES? How is it diagnosed and, more importantly, how is it treated? Here is a little information that may aid you in your research.

What Exactly Is PNES?

Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) are medical events that fully resemble epileptic seizures. However, the neurological misfires are absent in PNES patients, and these are the underlying causes of epilepsy. This condition has a psychological origin and is classified as a conversion disorder, but you can suffer from both PNES and epilepsy.

The best way for your brain specialist to reliably diagnose this condition is for you to be monitored through the use of an EEG-video. This will give the doctors the ability to view your convulsions, as well as your other signs and symptoms that are present during your episodes. It also helps your nervous system specialist to gather more information than they will get based on history alone or an observation of a singular episode.

It is estimated that approximately 3 in every 100,000 people in the country suffers from PNES. It resembles epilepsy so closely it could also account for anywhere from 20-50% of the misdiagnosis that take place by neurology specialists. Typical patients with an onset of PNES are young adult females.

What Does PNES Come From?

PNES is most often caused by psychological distress that is being triggered by some type of traumatic event. Examples of some of these events may include:

  • Incest
  • Divorce
  • Childhood sexual abuse
  • Death of a loved one
  • Sudden unwelcome changes and more

How Is PNES Treated?

PNES and other types of somatic symptom disorders can be very difficult to treat. Unless you also have epilepsy, your neurology specialist will probably refer you to a mental health professional to deal with the underlying mental distress. They may do so by using psychotherapy with or without antidepressant medications. 

If you think that you may possibly have PNES, discuss your concerns with the doctor that you have been seeing for your condition. If the diagnosis is verified, they will refer you to the type of doctor you need to treat your condition. 

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