Psychogenic Paroxysmal Nonepileptic Events in Children: A Review

Morgan, L. A.; Buchhalter, J.

Pediatr Neurol. 2015 May 20; 53(1):13-22


BACKGROUND: Paroxysmal nonepileptic events are common in children. Events with a psychological basis, historically referred to as pseudoseizures, are a large subset of paroxysmal nonepileptic events. METHODS: A review of the relevant pediatric and adult literature was performed. RESULTS: It was found that these events have many semioloigc features similar to epileptic events and can be challenging to correctly identify. The use of a detailed history in combination with video encephalography and knowledge of psychogenic paroxysmal nonepileptic events will facilitate making the correct diagnosis. Paroxysmal nonepileptic events are important to identify as comorbid disorders such as depression, anxiety disorder, family discord, and school issues are frequent. In addition, prior sexual, emotional, and/or physical abuse may be present. CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric patients with paroxysmal nonepileptic events need to be recognized in order to avoid unnecessary antiepileptic drugs and emergency department or hospital visits and to facilitate appropriate psychological intervention to address the underlying etiologies. This review will focus on evaluation and identification of paroxysmal nonepileptic events, in addition to reviewing the various comorbidities, effective treatments, and outcomes for pediatric patients. The key differences between pediatric and adult patients with paroxysmal nonepileptic events are addressed.

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