Not all seizures are caused by electrical activity in the brain. Dissociative seizures look a lot like epileptic seizures, but happen for psychological, rather than physical reasons.
Many different names are used for dissociative seizures. Some commonly used names are:
- Non-epileptic seizures or
- Non-epileptic attack disorder (NEAD for short)
These names are also used:
- Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES)
- Psychogenic seizures
- Functional seizures
Whichever name you have come across; they all mean the same thing. We have chosen to say dissociative seizures.
1It is possible to have both epileptic and dissociative seizures
2Many people, including health professionals find it difficult to tell the difference between an epileptic and a dissociative seizure
3Dissociative seizures happen for psychological reasons. They may be caused by past or present trauma or stress
4Epilepsy medicines will not control dissociative seizures
5Some people are mis-diagnosed with epilepsy and take epilepsy medicine for years before they get correctly diagnosed with dissociative seizures
6To help work out the type of seizures someone is having, video-telemetry is useful. This involves having an EEG at the same time as being videoed
7Psychotherapy can help people with dissociative seizures (psychotherapy is the name for a range of different talking therapies)
It can be difficult to come to terms with a diagnosis of dissociative seizures, finding out what you can about them might help
If you can, talk to other people in a similar situation
Accepting a diagnosis of dissociative seizures is a first step towards getting control of your seizures
Get the support that you need. You might want help for managing your stress levels or your mental health. NHS and private resources are available
Stories by you
If you have dissociative seizures, get in touch to share your story.
Three young women talk about their dissociative seizures in this short video created by Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
If you have dissociative seizures, getting help can be a route to recovery. Understanding how stress, anxiety or trauma affect you may help with managing the seizures. What help can you find?