Dissociative (non-epileptic) seizures: tackling common challenges after the diagnosis

Pract Neurol. 2019 Aug;19(4):332-341. doi: 10.1136/practneurol-2018-002177. Epub 2019 Mar 16.


Dissociative (non-epileptic) seizures are one of the three major causes of transient loss of consciousness. As such, their treatment cannot be left to superspecialised experts. In this article I draw on personal experience to suggest ways to tackle some challenges that commonly arise after diagnosing dissociative seizures, focusing on three issues: "I want to know what is wrong with me," "I hear what you are saying but it doesn't apply to me" and "What if I have a seizure?" The suggestions detail both actions and words that may help at a crucial point in the patient's journey. If handled well, the process can leave the patient better equipped to understand their seizures and to engage in further treatment; if handled badly, patients may be left more traumatised, angry and with additional disability.

Keywords: communication; dissociative seizures; nonepileptic seizures; treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Dissociative Disorders / psychology
  • Dissociative Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Seizures / diagnosis*
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Seizures / therapy*