Psychosocial factors and antiepileptic drug use related to delayed diagnosis of refractory psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Amanda Rodríguez-Urrutia, Manuel Toledo, Francisco José Eiroa-Orosa, Xavier Salas-Puig, Estevo Santamarina, Sara Guila Fidel-Kinori, Gemma Parramon, Miguel Casas

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4 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 by Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. OBJECTIVE:: We analyzed clinical and psychosocial factors in patients with refractory psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, seeking characteristics that could hasten diagnosis. BACKGROUND:: Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures remain a diagnostic challenge. Prognosis is best if patients are treated within 2 years of symptom onset. Psychosocial factors have been shown to provide important information for differential diagnosis. METHODS:: Over a year and 1132 consecutive patients, our hospital's Epilepsy Unit suspected 93 patients of having psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and confirmed refractory psychogenic nonepileptic seizures in 67. We referred these patients to our psychiatric consultation unit for detailed diagnostic interviews, and 53 of the patients followed through. Two months after the psychiatric evaluation we gave them a psychiatric intervention, explaining the diagnosis and treating their comorbidities. We also tracked the patients' use of antiepileptic drugs for 3 months, from just before the psychiatric evaluation until a month after they started the intervention. RESULTS:: Women, patients with an inadequate primary support group, and patients who had tried many antiepileptic drugs were most likely to have their diagnosis of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures delayed by >2 years after onset. A stepwise logistic regression showed that the 2 best predictors of late diagnosis were lack of availability of a primary support group and patients trying many antiepileptic drugs. CONCLUSIONS:: Clinicians evaluating patients with questionable seizures should raise their suspicion of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures especially in female patients with an insufficient primary support group and a history of taking multiple antiepileptic drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-205
JournalCognitive and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • antiepileptic drug
  • early diagnosis
  • epilepsy
  • psychogenic nonepileptic seizure
  • psychosocial factors

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