PNES: Psychological non-epileptic seizures (PNES)

What is Epilepsy and What are PNES?

Located At:

6075 S Quebec St, Suite 203
Centennial, CO 80111
Phone: (720) 708-4865

Epilepsy is a condition of the brain causing seizures for which close to 50,000 people in Colorado live with on a daily basis. A seizure is a disruption of the electrical communication between the neurons in the brain and someone is considered to have epilepsy if they have experienced two or more unprovoked seizures separated by at least 24 hours.

Psychological non-epileptic seizures are diagnosed 20 to 30% of the times in patients with epilepsy after being originally diagnosed with epilepsy first. It is one of the most common conditions to be misdiagnosed as epilepsy, contributing to 90 percent of misdiagnoses. Complicating matters, 15 percent of people with psychogenic seizure have epileptic seizures as well. This makes the true cause of particular seizure-like activity harder to sort out.

What are PNES? PNES are attacks that may look like epileptic seizures, but are not caused by abnormal brain electrical discharges. They are a manifestation of psychological distress. Frequently, patients with PNES may look like they are experiencing generalized convulsions similar to tonic clonic seizures with falling and shaking. Less frequently, PNES may mimic absence seizures or complex partial seizures with temporary loss of attention or staring.

PNES may be associated with psychological conditions or other physical problems such as:
  • Traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse, incest, divorce, death of a loved one,
  • Any type of Great loss or sudden change
  • Coexisting conditions that commonly have some psychological component, such as fibromyalgia, chronic pain and chronic fatigue, can increase the probability of PNES
  • PTSD, depression/anger