Nonepileptic seizure outcome varies by type of spell and duration of illness

Linda M. Selwa, James Geyer, Nersi Nikakhtar, Morton B. Brown, Lori A. Schuh, Ivo Drury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Purpose: To determine whether differences in clinical manifestations of psychogenic nonepileptic events are associated with differences in outcome and whether the length of illness before diagnosis correlates with outcome. Methods: We reviewed ictal videotapes and EEGs in 85 patients diagnosed with exclusively nonepileptic psychogenic seizures during inpatient CCTV-EEG monitoring at the University of Michigan between June 1994 and December 1996. They were classified into groups of similar ictal behaviors. Fifty-seven of these patients were available to respond to a follow-up telephone survey about their condition 2-4 years after discharge. We examined demographics, baseline EEG abnormalities, and outcome of treatment interventions. We also evaluated whether interventions were more likely to succeed if patients were diagnosed early in the course of the illness. Results: We found that the largest groups consisted of patients with motionless unresponsiveness ('catatonic,' n = 19) and asynchronous motor movements with impaired responsiveness ('thrashing,' n = 19). Infrequent signs included tremor, automatisms, subjective events with amnesia, and intermittent behaviors. There was a higher incidence of baseline EEG abnormalities in the thrashing group (31%) than in the catatonic group (0%). There was a higher incidence of complete remission of spells in the catatonic group (53%) than in the thrashing group (21%). Patients who had a more recent onset of seizures (most often within 1 year) were much more likely to have remission of spells after diagnosis. Conclusions: Classification of nonepileptic seizures is useful in predicting outcome and may be valuable in further investigation of this complex set of disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1330-1334
Number of pages5
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Nonepileptic events
  • Outcome
  • Personality testing
  • Pseudoseizures


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