Stressful life event appraisal and coping in patients with psychogenic seizures and those with epilepsy

Seizure. 2012 May;21(4):282-7. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Mar 14.


Understanding stress and coping among individuals with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) may have important treatment implications. 40 patients with PNES, 20 with epilepsy (EPIL), and 40 healthy control (HC) participants reported the frequency of various stressful life events (both positive and negative) and appraised the distress these events induced. They also described their habitual coping behaviors. PNES patients reported no more frequent stressful life events than EPIL patients or HC. In addition, the stressors they experienced are not objectively more severe. However, they reported more severe distress due to negative life events, especially in the domains of work, social functioning, legal matters, and health. PNES patients also engaged in less planning and active coping than HC. Neither of these two coping behaviors was associated with distress ratings. The PNES group did not engage in more denial than either group. However, greater denial among PNES patients was associated with greater perceived distress. Coping in PNES is characterized by elevated levels of perceived distress and fewer action strategies than are normally employed to reduce the impact of a stressor. These findings may inform cognitive behavioral therapy of PNES patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Conversion Disorder / psychology*
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Seizures / psychology*