Depression and symptoms affect quality of life in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Neurology. 2009 Aug 4;73(5):366-71. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181b04c83.


Background: In patients with active epilepsy, adverse medication effects and severity of depression are correlated with health-related quality of life, but seizure frequency is not. We sought to examine if the same pattern exists in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES).

Methods: We administered seizure calendars, quality of life (QOL) scales, depression scales, and symptom checklists to 49 patients with video EEG-confirmed PNES. Data analysis consisted of performing Pearson correlation coefficients, scatter plots, and t tests.

Results: Depression and symptom scores significantly increased as health-related QOL scores decreased (partial correlation coefficient r = -0.73 for both comparisons), whereas seizure count was nonsignificant (partial correlation coefficient r = -0.19).

Conclusions: As is seen in epilepsy, patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures demonstrate that higher depressive symptoms and somatic symptoms are independently related to worsening quality of life (QOL); however, seizure frequency is not. Seizure frequency is an important focus in patient care and treatment trials. The findings underscore the importance of, along with seizure counts, also examining QOL, depression, and somatic symptoms in patients with seizures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depressive Disorder / etiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Electroencephalography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Seizures / complications*
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Somatoform Disorders / complications
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology
  • Video Recording
  • Young Adult