August 27, 2021

Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures During the COVID-19 Pandemic in New York City – A Distinct Response From the Epilepsy Experience

Abstract, origionally published in Epilepsy & Behavior

Although psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are a common neurologic condition, there remains a paucity of literature on the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on these patients. Using a cross-sectional questionnaire study, our group examined the experience of patients with PNES at a single Comprehensive Epilepsy Center in New York City, the epicenter of the initial COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. Among our cohort of 18 subjects with PNES, 22.2% reported an improvement in seizure control during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. Compared to the cohort of subjects with epilepsy without PNES, subjects with PNES were significantly more likely to report an improvement (p = 0.033). Our findings signal that sleep and stress may be relevant variables in both conditions that should be further investigated and potentially intervened upon. Larger dedicated studies of patients with PNES are needed to understand the impact of the pandemic’s widespread societal effects on these patients.

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