Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 146-154

Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and psychosocial management: A narrative review

1 Jindal Institute of Behavioral Sciences, O. P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India
2 Department of Neurology, Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, India
3 Pediatrics (Neurology Division), Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Suvasini Sharma
Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics (Neurology Division), Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_884_20

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Psychogenic non-epileptic seizure (PNES) is a common disorder that imitates epileptic seizures and has its etiological roots in psychological distress. Due to its “epileptic” similarity, it is often dealt with not only by mental health professionals but also by physicians, pediatricians and neurologists. There is a growing consensus towards the psychotherapeutic treatment of the disorder, albeit a lack of clarity in choosing a gold-standard approach. This paper seeks to serve as a compendium of different psychotherapeutic approaches and their efficacy in the management of PNES. The paper employed the search strategy by selecting the keywords: “Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures (PNES) and psychosocial management”, “PNES Treatment approach”, “PNES and psychotherapy” in PUBMED, EBSCO host, PsycINFO, and SCOPUS database. Eventually, specific therapies were cross-searched with PNES for an exhaustive review. Several studies were found employing various psychotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of PNES in pilot studies, randomized controlled, or open uncontrolled trials. Cognitive Behavior Therapy was demonstrated as an efficacious treatment for PNES in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Other approaches that were effective in ameliorating the symptoms were psychodynamic therapies or psychoeducation based group therapies. Some therapies like Novel Integrative psychotherapy, Eye Movement Desensitisation Therapy and Mindfulness-based therapies require further exploration in larger clinical trials. The findings demonstrate that psychological intervention for PNES is a promising alternative treatment approach with a need for more RCTs with a larger sample and robust methodology for better generalization.

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