Posttraumatic stress disorder, dissociation, and sexual abuse history in epileptic and nonepileptic seizure patients

Epilepsy Behav. 2003 Dec;4(6):644-50. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2003.08.006.


Rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dissociative symptoms, and childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are believed to be higher among patients with nonepileptic seizures (NES) than those with epileptic seizures (ES). However, women have higher rates of CSA and sexual assault than men. Comparisons of seizure type controlling for gender may produce different results. Data from an opportunity sample of 34 patients with ES and 17 with NES evaluated during or following phase 1 video-EEG monitoring demonstrated that patients with NES had statistically higher rates of PTSD and CSA and higher Dissociative Experiences Scale (DES) scores than patients with ES. No differences were found between women with NES and ES for histories of PTSD or CSA. Mean between-group DES score differences remained. Results indicated that PTSD, dissociation, and CSA may be common among women presenting to a tertiary epilepsy referral center for both ES and NES. Neither a positive history of CSA nor a history of PTSD was evidence against epilepsy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Dissociative Disorders / complications*
  • Epilepsy / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications*