Stress and other psychosocial characteristics of patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Psychosomatics. 2000 May-Jun;41(3):221-6. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.41.3.221.


Research on psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) has focused on childhood abuse, but less is known about other stressors and psychosocial risk factors. The authors compared 25 patients with PNES with 33 control subjects with epilepsy on stressful life events and other risk factors for somatoform disorders. Compared with control subjects, patients with PNES reported significantly more prevalent and stressful negative life events (including adulthood abuse) and more current rumination, stress-related diseases, somatic symptoms, bodily awareness, and marginally more anxiety and depression. However, the relationship of many of these variables to PNES was accounted for by life stress. Groups did not differ on illness worry, alexithymia, or psychotic symptoms. The results suggest that PNES are part of a larger pattern of somatic symptoms responses to a wide range of negative events, including stress in adulthood.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / diagnosis
  • Affective Symptoms / psychology
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology