Non-Epileptic Seizures Live Q&A Webinar for Parents
Non-epileptic seizures are episodes that briefly change a person's behavior and may look like epileptic seizures.
Non-epileptic seizures (also referred to as pseudoseizures, psychogenic or cryptogenic seizures) are episodic, paroxysmal events not related to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Considered to be of psychological rather than physical origin, they offer a major challenge to diagnosis and treatment. In one study, fully 25 percent of patients referred to an epilepsy center to be evaluated for surgery had non-epileptic seizures.
A person having non-epileptic seizures may have internal sensations that resemble those felt during an epileptic seizure. The difference in these two kinds of episodes is often hard to recognize by just watching the event, even by trained medical personnel.
The episodes resemble true epileptic seizures in many ways. But there is an important difference. They have characteristics which differ from true seizures in important points, including repeatedly normal EEG readings between seizures; lack of any response to therapeutic levels of anti-epileptic drugs; and violent thrashing of all four limbs, especially if not synchronous, during an episode. Epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal electrical changes in the brain and, in particular, in its outer layer, called the cortex. Non-epileptic seizures are not caused by electrical disruptions in the brain.
Non-epileptic seizures tend to be pleomorphic over time (changing in character) and longer than epileptic seizures. Non-epileptic seizures also occur only in wakefulness, whereas epileptic seizures occur in wake and sleep. Anti-epileptic drugs do not stop non-epileptic seizures.
Non-epileptic seizures may occur in people who also have true epileptic seizures. Successful treatment usually involves psychological counseling and may include treatment with psychiatric medication.