Non-epileptic attack disorder: a psychological perspective

Seizure. 1997 Dec;6(6):429-34. doi: 10.1016/s1059-1311(97)80016-7.


Due to the serious medical consequences in failing to recognize non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD), and the frequency with which neurologists come into contact with such patients, clearly NEAD constitutes a major concern for clinicians in the field of epilepsy. This article presents the psychological characteristics of 185 patients with NEAD. Psychological factors that were identified as being important in the understanding of the development and maintenance of NEAD included: anxiety or stress; physical abuse; significant bereavement; family dysfunctioning; relationship problems; depression; sexual abuse. An absence of relevant psychological factors was found in only 5% of patients. From patients' descriptions of their attacks, it appears that many symptoms are related to anxiety. Our findings are largely supported by previous studies and their relevance to effective management and treatment of NEAD patients is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Care Team
  • Personality Tests
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / diagnosis
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Somatoform Disorders / diagnosis
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*