Stress and Seizures (2)

Continuing the review of the research from Melbourne in the last post (1), the huge flaw is that the paper fails to report on childhood stress experience in patients with PNES (psychogenic non-epileptic seizures, which is a form of stress illness in many cases).  Just how big a flaw is made clear in a paragraph from Dr Anna Luise Kirkengen’s latest book The Lived Experience of Violation: How Abused Children Become Unhealthy Adults (Zeta Books, 2010):

“The latest review (2) of studies on psychogenic non-epileptic sei­zures (PNES) confirms their association with high levels of psychi­atric comorbidity and a positive correlation between the degree of psychopathology and the severity of the PNES disorder. [In lay terms, this means that the more psychological distress a patient had, the more severe their PNES tended to be – Ed.]  Like­wise, the review confirms stress and conflicts to be precipitating factors and seizure triggers. Factors described as precipitating PNES include rape; injury; “symbolic” experiences in adulthood after childhood abuse; surgical procedures; giving birth; and un­dergoing anesthetics, death or separation, job loss, accidents, and earthquakes. The most consistent finding, however, is the relation­ship between PNES and traumatic experiences in general, and be­tween PNES and childhood abuse in particular.

Dr Reuber’s article (2) lists several reports on PNES that found between 32 – 88% of patients had experienced physical or sexual child abuse, much higher than in epilepsy patients or the general population.  More in the next post.

1. Jones SG et al.  Clinical Characteristics and Outcome in Patients with Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures.  Psychosomatic Medicine 72:481 – 486. June 2010.

2. Reuber M. Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures: answers and questions. Review. Epilepsy Behav 2008; 12: 622–35.

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