Nonepileptic behavioral disorders: diagnosis and treatment

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2013 Jun;19(3 Epilepsy):715-29. doi: 10.1212/


Purpose of review: This article will review the important steps in making an accurate diagnosis of psychogenic nonepileptic events or episodes (PNEE), and recent developments in diagnosis and treatment.

Recent findings: Several clues can be obtained from the history to help the clinician suspect the diagnosis of PNEE. While none of these clues are diagnostic on their own, each is valuable, and there are often multiple clues in a given patient. Clinical clues have limitations, and once PNEE is suspected, video-EEG monitoring remains the gold standard and the only way to make a definite diagnosis of PNEE. Like most tests, video EEG has its limitations, but in most cases the diagnosis can be made and is not difficult. Regarding treatment, growing evidence exists that psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavior therapy, is effective, and a recent finding is that pharmacotherapy may have a role.

Summary: The diagnosis of PNEE can be made reliably, but the management of PNEE remains problematic, in large part because of the insufficient involvement of mental health professionals.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis*
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Video Recording