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Psychogenic seizures: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The psychogenic seizures are experienced by a person who has suffered some kind of trauma or emotional experience in your life that has not yet overcome and generates stress; therefore, they are seizures that appear for emotional causes so they will have to be treated by psychologists or psychiatrists. We should not confuse them with epilepsy seizures because they are totally different and their origin is also different. In this FastlyHealarticle we are going to discover the causes and treatment of psychogenic seizures so that you better know the origins of this condition and can solve it.

What are psychogenic seizures

These are seizures of psychological origin , very similar or almost identical to those produced by an epileptic seizure. Generally, people with this disorder are not epileptic and only 10% suffer from both disorders simultaneously. It is estimated that this type of seizure affects 33% of the population, which means that its incidence is comparable to that of multiple sclerosis or trigeminal neuralgia.

The misdiagnosis of this type of seizure is very frequent since it presents almost identical symptoms to episodes of epilepsy . It has been found that 25% of people diagnosed with epilepsy did not respond to treatment, with the added risk of suffering medical problems due to the incorrect use of drugs.

The difficulty of an accurate diagnosis is that, in both cases, the patients present an abnormal EEG (electroencephalogram). However, only an epilepsy specialist can see the difference between the two cases and consider the EEG of patients with psychogenic seizures normal.

Although these are seizures similar to epileptic seizures, seizures are not caused by abnormal brain discharges, but rather are the manifestation of psychological discomfort .

Causes of psychogenic seizures

The causes of psychogenic seizures have an emotional origin and are closely related to stress. These are usually people who cope with stress using the wrong strategies. Many of the patients with this disorder have suffered some traumatic experience and it often occurred in the distant past. They tend to have a higher incidence in adolescence and youth, although these attacks can appear at any age.

When a person suffers a trauma such as sexual or physical abuse or witnesses violence, their body comes to absorb that trauma. Therefore, the body expresses through seizures what the person cannot express in words. It is a mechanism by which the emotional pain experienced leaves consciousness and moves to the physical part. In this way, emotional pain is no longer felt.

Diagnose these seizures

To make a more accurate diagnosis, the EEG must be combined with a video recording of the person, for several hours or days, until the attack occurs. Likewise, there are some clues that help identify this type of seizure:

  • Antiepileptic medication does not produce any improvement
  • The existence of specific situations that trigger the attacks such as stressful or emotionally conflictive situations and that do not usually occur in epileptic attacks
  • This type of seizure does not usually occur during sleep
  • There are certain details that are not typical of epileptic seizures such as lateral head movements, moans, stuttering, leg movements or arching of the back
  • Existence of certain symptoms such as anxiety, depression, abnormal interaction with the family or total absence of concern
  • Unlike epileptic seizures, during psychogenic seizures the patient keeps his eyes closed
  • Existence of other problems of psychological origin such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue or chronic pain
  • Background of sexual trauma or abuse
  • Pelvic movements
  • Approximate duration of 2 to 3 minutes
  • Initiation and gradual cessation of attacks

Despite the abundant material on the subject, the truth is that psychogenic symptoms are not usually the target of numerous clinical investigations

Treatment of psychogenic seizures

We are going to analyze now what is the treatment of psychogenic seizures. As we have already seen, it is a type of condition related to the emotional aspect and the experience of each person, therefore, it is important to try to talk with the patient so that they can delve into their emotions and try to find out the origin of their discomfort.

During treatment it is usual for the doctor to conduct a series of interviews with the patient to try to discover the real cause of their situation. Medicines for epilepsy are not, at all, recommended because we are not talking about the same condition, although the symptom of seizures is similar.

A psychiatric team should consider treating psychogenic seizures with the help of antidepressants or anxiolytics, but this method will always have to be prescribed by a professional so that it can really improve the patient’s health.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Psychogenic seizures: causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our category of Mental disorders .

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