What should be the focus of psychosocial history in the evaluation 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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A psychosocial history with evidence of maladaptive behaviors or associated psychiatric diagnoses should raise the suspicion of PNES. Pay particular attention during mental status evaluation, especially to the patient's general demeanor, the appropriateness of this or her level of concern, overdramatization, and hysterical features.

Certain symptoms suggest epileptic seizures. These include significant injury. In particular, tongue biting and an ictal cry [8] are highly specific to generalized tonic-clonic seizures and are helpful signs when present.

Antecedent sexual trauma or abuse is thought to be important in the psychopathology of psychogenic seizures and psychogenic symptoms in general. A history of abuse may be more frequent in convulsive rather than limp type of PNES.

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