Clinical characteristics and outcome in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures

Simon G. Jones, Terence J. O'Brien, Sophia J. Adams, Ramon Mocellin, Christine J. Kilpatrick, Raju Yerra, John H. Lloyd, Dennis Velakoulis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVES: To examine baseline clinical features of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) in a large cohort and to investigate outcome over a period of up to 10 years. Studies investigating PNES have been limited by differences in diagnostic criteria, short follow-up periods, and the use of limited outcome measures. METHOD: Patients with PNES were identified, using strict diagnostic criteria. Baseline neurological, neuropsychiatric, and neuroimaging data were obtained from medical records. Long-term outcome was assessed with ratings of seizures, psychopathology, and quality of life in a subset of the patients. RESULTS: Patients with PNES (n = 221) experienced long delays in diagnosis (μ, 5.6 years; standard deviation, 7.7 years) and high rates (>60%) of prolonged treatment with antiepileptic drugs. Compared with previous studies, a relatively low proportion (8.1% to 17.9%, depending on diagnostic criteria) had comorbid epilepsy. An unexpected finding was that 22.6% of PNES patients had magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities. Patients assessed at follow-up (n = 61) exhibited poor long-term outcomes with ongoing PNES, high rates of psychopathology, low rates of specialist follow-up, poor quality of life, and poor overall levels of functioning. CONCLUSIONS: These results demonstrate the need for earlier diagnosis of PNES and comorbidities and highlight the need for diagnostic and therapeutic approaches that combine neurological and psychiatric perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-497
Number of pages11
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Comorbidity
  • Epilepsy
  • Mental disorder
  • Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures
  • Quality of life.

Cite this

Jones, S. G., O'Brien, T. J., Adams, S. J., Mocellin, R., Kilpatrick, C. J., Yerra, R., Lloyd, J. H., & Velakoulis, D. (2010). Clinical characteristics and outcome in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(5), 487-497.