Is panic attack a mask of psychogenic seizures?--a comparative analysis of phenomenology of psychogenic seizures and panic attacks

Funct Neurol. 1994 May-Jun;9(3):153-9.


The absence of clear clinical criteria for diagnosing psychogenic seizures and the abundance of vegetative symptoms in their structure raise the question of how to differentiate these states from panic attacks (PA). Clinical symptoms of paroxysm were compared in a group of 32 patients with PA and in a group of 15 patients with psychogenic seizures. It was found that the symptoms classified as panic ones according to DSM-III R criteria are equally observed in both groups. These states are differentiated only by the symptom "fear of dying", observed in 20% of patients with psychogenic seizures and in 90% of patients with PA, and by the number of conversion symptoms (5.9 in patients with psychogenic seizures and 2.2 in patients with PA). It is suggested that in both types of paroxysms panic associated symptoms are not specific and these symptoms only reflect affective distress. The latter is specifically expressed in the form of the symptom "fear of dying" during panic attacks and in the form of conversion symptoms during psychogenic seizures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Conversion Disorder / diagnosis
  • Conversion Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Panic Disorder / diagnosis
  • Panic Disorder / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Seizures / etiology*
  • Seizures / physiopathology*