Quality of life in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Epilepsia. 2003 Feb;44(2):236-42. doi: 10.1046/j.1528-1157.2003.35302.x.


Purpose: Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNESs) are events that alter or seem to alter the neurologic function and, in their appearance, resemble epileptic seizures (ESs). In patients with ESs the psychological and medical aspects of epilepsy greatly influence the health-related quality of life (HRQOL). The relation between these factors and PNESs is not well established. In this study, we compared HRQOL in patients with PNESs with that of patients with ESs.

Methods: We evaluated 105 patients admitted to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit of University Hospital between January 20, 2001, and January 20, 2002. Only patients with the definite diagnosis of ESs or PNESs were analyzed (n = 85). Patients completed an epilepsy-specific quality-of-life instrument (QOLIE-89), the Profile of Mood States (POMS), and Adverse Events Profile (AEP). We used t tests and regression analyses to contrast HRQOL in PNESs and ESs and to elucidate the main factors associated with HRQOL in patients with PNESs.

Results: In our sample, 45 patients had PNESs, and 40 had ESs. The overall HRQOL and scores on 13 of 19 QOLIE-89 subscales were significantly lower (i.e., worse) in PNES than in ES patients. AEP and scores on five of six POMS subscales also were worse in PNES patients than in ES patients. PNES versus ES diagnosis, POMS depression/dejection, and AEP were significant predictors of HRQOL, jointly explaining 65% variation in HRQOL. The lower HRQOL in PNESs versus ESs was in part explained by depression and AEP.

Conclusions: Patients with PNESs have a lower HRQOL and worse mood problems than do patients with ESs. This disadvantage is primarily due to depression and medication side effects, although these factors influence QOL in much the same way in PNES and ES patients. These baseline HRQOL data on patients with PNESs can be used to evaluate the effects of treatment in this patient population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / psychology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Sick Role*
  • Sickness Impact Profile
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*


  • Anticonvulsants