What are PNES?
PNES (Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures) are attacks that closely resemble epilepsy-related seizures (most commonly grand-mal seizures), but abnormal electric activity in the brain doesn’t cause them, and they don’t cause brain damage. They come, instead, from mental/psychological distress.
The main symptom of PNES is seizure-like attacks. The only true way to know if someone has PNES rather than epilepsy is through testing, but the following symptoms may point toward a potential likelihood of PNES:
- Convulsive seizures that last longer than 10 minutes
- Convulsive seizures, where you still retain awareness
- Rapid side-to-side head movements
- Out-of-phase limb movements
- Eyes-closed unresponsiveness
- Pelvic thrusting
- Changing patterns of movement
Who Does it Affect?
PNES are more common in women than men and often begin in early adulthood.
Risk factors in developing PNES include:
- History of sexual abuse
- History of physical abuse or neglect
- Coexisting psychiatric conditions (i.e., depressive disorders, PTSD, or personality disorders)
- A tendency to suppress emotions
PNES is also more prevalent in the population of veterans.
Common Co-Morbids with PNES
- Depressive Disorders
- Dissociative Disorders
- Somatic Symptom Disorder
- Personality Disorders
PNES is treated by treating the underlying psychiatric conditions – this is done through therapy and potentially medication. Often, CBT-based therapies will be used, as well as EMDR.
This Cleveland Clinic article inspired this page.