Recent progress in the understanding and treatment of nonepileptic seizures

Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2012 May;25(3):244-50. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283523db6.


Purpose of review: There has been a steady increase in the number of publications about (psychogenic) nonepileptic seizures (NES) over the past two decades. This review focuses on work published in the past 3 years. It summarizes the most important developments in terms of diagnosis, cause, clinical manifestations and treatment of NES.

Recent findings: Several recent studies demonstrate the scope and limitation of questionnaire-based and conversation analytic approaches to the differential diagnosis of epilepsy and NES. Experimental work has revealed that patients with NES have increased levels of physiological arousal at rest which are associated with abnormal mental processing. There is a growing understanding of the meaning and clinical significance of the heterogeneous manifestations of NES. Several studies document the therapeutic potential of an early and effective communication of the diagnosis of NES. A number of randomized controlled or uncontrolled long-term follow-up pilot studies suggest that different forms of psychotherapy are effective for NES.

Summary: Recent research has improved our understanding of NES as a biopsychosocial disorder. Clear diagnostic and management pathways for patients with NES are likely to emerge in the near future.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychotherapy / methods
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Seizures / therapy*


  • Biomarkers