Diagnosis and Treatment of Nonepileptic Seizures

Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2016 Feb;22(1 Epilepsy):116-31. doi: 10.1212/CON.0000000000000282.


Purpose of review: This article details the evaluation process involved in the diagnosis of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). The psychological underpinnings, prognostic factors, and recent treatment advances of PNES are also reviewed.

Recent findings: The diagnosis of PNES is determined based on concordance of the composite evidence available, including historical and physical examination findings, seizure symptoms and signs, and ictal/interictal EEG. No single clinical data point is definitively diagnostic of PNES. The diagnosis of PNES can be challenging at times, such as when seizure documentation on video-EEG cannot be readily obtained. Yet, delayed diagnosis of PNES portends poor outcome. A multicomponent approach to the diagnosis of PNES, with use of an aggregate of available evidence, may facilitate diagnosis and then care of patients with PNES. Emerging evidence supports the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral-based therapy in the treatment of these patients.

Summary: The diagnosis of PNES can be made reliably, and evidence-based treatment now exists. Continued efforts remain necessary to enhance prompt recognition and interdisciplinary management for patients with PNES.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / physiopathology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / therapy
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / physiopathology*
  • Seizures / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Video Recording / methods