What is the prevalence of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)?

Updated: Jul 26, 2018
  • Author: Selim R Benbadis, MD; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Answer

PNES are commonly misdiagnosed as epilepsy. It is by far the most frequent nonepileptic condition seen in epilepsy centers, where they represent 20-30% of referrals. [19] About 50-70% of patients become seizure-free after diagnosis, and about 15% also have epilepsy.

Similar to conversion disorders, PNES typically begin in young adulthood and occur more frequently in women (approximately 70% of cases) than in men. PNES can also occur in the elderly.

One should be particularly cautious in diagnosing PNES (and psychogenic symptoms in general) when the onset is in early childhood or old age. In these age groups, nonepileptic physiologic events may be more common than other conditions. For example, children may have parasomnias (e.g., night terrors), breath-holding spells, and shuddering attacks.


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