Anxiety and depression in psychogenic movement disorder and non-epileptic seizures: a prospective comparative study

Rev Neurol (Paris). 2010 May;166(5):515-22. doi: 10.1016/j.neurol.2009.10.016. Epub 2010 Jan 6.


Objective: This study compared anxiety and depression in patients presenting with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) with those suffering from psychogenic movement disorders (PMD) to assess the link between these psychiatric pathologies and neurological symptoms.

Methods: This clinically descriptive, prospective study involved consecutive patients who fulfilled the clinical and video-EEG criteria for PNES and PMD, and who were recruited over an 18-month period. Semi-structured (according to DSM-IV criteria) psychiatric interviews and self-evaluation using the Beck Depression Inventory and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory were carried out. Clinical follow-up was conducted 8-12 months after the first evaluation.

Results: A total of 17 patients were recruited: nine presented with PNES; and eight had PMD. Both patient groups had similar demographic and clinical data as well as depression and personality disorders. Although not statistically significant, there was a trend towards an increased prevalence of a familial medical history of epilepsy and a higher incidence of anxiety disorders among patients with PNES.

Conclusion: The data from this prospective study underscore the clinical and psychiatric similarity between PNES and PMD patients. Further studies involving a larger number of subjects should confirm, from a statistical point of view, the differences suggested in the present investigation and, in particular, the greater incidence of anxiety disorders in PNES patients and the presence of an epileptic parent as a risk factor for PNES.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / complications
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Electroencephalography
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement Disorders / etiology
  • Movement Disorders / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Seizures / psychology*
  • Young Adult