Psychopathological features in referred adolescents with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures with or without epilepsy: Epilepsy and Behavior

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Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are episodic manifestations that mimic epileptic seizures (ES) although not associated with electroencephalogram (EEG) abnormalities. Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and ES, however, can often cooccur. Emotional distress in adolescents can trigger PNES, but the psychopathological and personality features are still unknown. The aim of this study was to explore psychopathological features in a sample of referred youth with PNES, with or without ES, compared with a control group with ES. Thirty-four patients aged 12 to 21 years, 19 females and 15 males, were included in the study, 15 patients with PNES, 7 with PNES and ES, and 12 with ES. The three groups were compared according to psychiatric categorical diagnoses, psychopathological dimensions, life stressors, and personality traits, including alexithymia, interpersonal reactivity, and resilience, all assessed with structured measures. Patients with PNES, with or without ES, were more severely impaired, had a higher incidence of mood disorders, more frequent lifetime traumatic experiences, and lower resilience. All the three groups presented alexythimic traits and emotional dysregulation. Major limitations are the small sample size and the lack of a control group of healthy subjects. Disentagling psychopathological characteristics in PNES can help clinicians to focus diagnostic approaches and therapeutic interventions. © 2020 Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEpilepsy Behav.
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Adolescence
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Mood disorders
  • Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures
  • Psychopathology
  • ethosuximide
  • gabapentin
  • lamotrigine
  • lithium carbonate
  • olanzapine
  • rufinamide
  • sertraline
  • topiramate
  • valproic acid
  • adolescent
  • alexithymia
  • Article
  • child
  • clinical article
  • clinical feature
  • controlled study
  • disease severity
  • electroencephalogram
  • emotional disorder
  • epilepsy
  • female
  • human
  • human relation
  • interpersonal reactivity
  • life stress
  • male
  • mental disease
  • mood disorder
  • patient referral
  • personality
  • psychogenic nonepileptic seizure
  • psychologic assessment
  • psychological aspect
  • resilience
  • sample size
  • school child
  • seizure
  • Wechsler adult intelligence scale
  • Wechsler intelligence scale


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