July 1, 2019

Youth with Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures Self-Report Greater Depression and Dissociation than Youth with Epilepsy

To compare youth with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) to youth with epilepsy on demographic and clinical features and the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children (TSCC).

METHOD: A retrospective study of 31 patients; 15 patients with PNES (11 females) and 16 patients with epilepsy (8 females) collected consecutively between 2014-2018. Demographic and clinical information (age of seizure onset, life adversities, individual/family psychiatric history, etc.) were gathered. Scales from the TSCC (Dissociation, Depression, Anxiety) were analyzed.

RESULTS: Eleven of the youth with PNES (YPNES) (73%) were female, mean age was 14.3 ± 1.6 years and years of education were 9 ± 1.9. Eight of the youth with epilepsy (YWE) (50%) were females, mean age was 11.9 ± 2.8 years and years of education were 5.6 ± 2.9. All 15 YPNES and over half of their families had comorbid psychological problems whilst rates of personal and family psychiatric histories were much lower in YWE. Well over half of YPNES reported experiencing life adversities while one fourth of YWE reported these types of experiences. Significant differences were observed between YPNES and YWE on TSCC Overt Dissociation (p < 0.003), Dissociation (p < 0.009), and Depression (p < 0.001) scales, with YWE producing lower scores. When the six target variables were condensed into one principal component, the global TSCC score was lower in the epilepsy group, even after adjusting for potential effects age, seizure frequency and intellectual quotient.

CONCLUSIONS: The current study’s results indicate that youth with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures present with comparably higher self-reported symptoms of depression and dissociation than youth with epilepsy.

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