Psychogenic Seizures

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Psychogenic seizures are seizures that do not have a physical cause. They can be caused by stress, injury, emotional trauma, or mental illness.

Psychogenic seizures are a type of nonepileptic seizure. This means they are not caused by epilepsy. But people with epilepsy may have psychogenic seizures. Psychogenic seizures are sometimes called pseudoseizures.

It is important to distinguish psychogenic seizures from epilepsy, because the risks may outweigh any benefit of treating psychogenic seizures with antiepileptic medicines.

  • Psychogenic seizures are not caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. A person having a psychogenic seizure will not have the typical electroencephalogram (EEG) findings of an epileptic seizure.
  • The events that are witnessed during a psychogenic seizure tend to vary from seizure to seizure. This is different from epileptic seizures, which seem to progress in a similar pattern every time.

Current as of: February 20, 2015

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology