Nonepileptic seizures (NES) are episodes of involuntary movement or changes in sensation that can look like epilepsy but are not caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. NES can trigger many things, including strong emotions, stress, tiredness, fever, alcohol withdrawal, drug abuse, or certain medical conditions.
NES is a type of conversion disorder, a type of mental health condition that can cause physical symptoms. Conversion disorder is thought to be caused by psychological stressors that convert into physical symptoms. NES is also sometimes called pseudoseizures or functional seizures.
NES can be difficult to manage because the episodes can be unpredictable, and the symptoms can be very distressing. However, treatments available can help lessen the frequency and severity of episodes.
What are nonepileptic seizures?
Nonepileptic seizures (NES) are also called pseudoseizures. They’re a type of seizure caused by a physical or psychological condition, not abnormal electrical activity in the brain. NES is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that other types of seizures must be ruled out before a diagnosis can be made. NES can be difficult to treat because the underlying cause is often unknown.
Types of nonepileptic seizures
There are many types of nonepileptic seizures (NES). Some people will experience just one type, while others may experience several. The most common types of NES are:
-Conversion disorder: This type of NES is thought to be caused by psychological stress. The person may lose control of their muscles, leading to shaking or paralysis.
-Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: These seizures are sometimes called pseudoseizures. They’re caused by psychological factors, such as stress or trauma. The person may shake and lose consciousness during a psychogenic nonepileptic seizure, but they won’t have the same electrical activity in their brain as someone having an epileptic seizure.
-Functional neurological disorder: This type of NES is characterized by symptoms that a medical condition can’t explain. The person may have muscle weakness, paralysis, or problems with balance and coordination.
-Hysterical seizures: Hysterical seizures were once thought to be caused by hysteria or conversion disorder. Now, they’re generally classified as functional neurological disorders.
Causes of nonepileptic seizures
Nonepileptic seizures (NES) are involuntary episodes that mimic the symptoms of epilepsy but are not caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. NES can be caused by various factors, including psychological stress, sleep disorders, use of certain medications, and underlying medical conditions. Although NES can be disruptive and frightening, they are not life-threatening.
There are two main types of nonepileptic seizures:
-Conversion disorder: Conversion disorder is the most common type of NES. It is thought to be caused by psychological stress or trauma. Symptoms may include uncontrolled jerking movements or paralysis.
-Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures: This type of NES is less common and is thought to be caused by a mental health condition, such as depression or anxiety. Symptoms may include staring blankly, chewing or lip-smacking, fidgeting, or shaking.
How to stop nonepileptic seizures
If you suffer from nonepileptic seizures, it’s important to know how to stop them. You can do a few things to stop nonepileptic seizures, and we’ll discuss them in this article. First, you’ll want to identify your triggers. Second, you can try relaxation techniques. Once you know what triggers your seizures, you can try to avoid them.
There are a variety of medications that can be used to try to stop or reduce the frequency of nonepileptic seizures. Some people may need to try a few different medications before finding the one that works best. Medications typically used to treat nonepileptic seizures include:
-Anticonvulsants. These medications are commonly used to treat epilepsy and can reduce the frequency of nonepileptic seizures. Examples of anticonvulsants include gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), topiramate (Topamax), and vigabatrin (Sabril).
-Anti-anxiety medications. Medications like alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) can help to reduce anxiety, which may help to prevent nonepileptic seizures.
-Antidepressants. Tricyclic antidepressants, like amitriptyline (Elavil), nortriptyline (Pamelor), and imipramine (Tofranil), help reduce the frequency of nonepileptic seizures. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft), may also be helpful.
It’s important to work with a doctor when trying any new medication, as they can help to monitor for any side effects or interactions with other medications you may be taking.
Surgery to stop seizures is an option for people with nonepileptic seizures who have tried other treatment methods. Surgery is usually only considered if:
-seizures are not controlled by medication
-the person has frequent seizures
-the person has disabling seizures
-the person has a single seizure focus that can be removed without damaging important parts of the brain
Surgery to stop seizures is usually successful, but it is not always possible to prevent seizures from happening.
Trigger avoidance: The most important step in managing nonepileptic seizures is identifying and avoiding potential triggers. Common triggers include:
Identifying and avoiding your triggers can help reduce the frequency and intensity of your seizures.
Relaxation techniques: Learning to relax can also help manage nonepileptic seizures. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce stress and tension, which can trigger seizures.
Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve overall health, which can help prevent nonepileptic seizures. A healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet and avoiding processed foods can help improve your overall health and reduce your risk of nonepileptic seizures.
Talk to your doctor if you think you have a problem with nonepileptic seizures. They can refer you to a specialist who can help you figure out what’s happening and develop a treatment plan.