PNES Underlying Causes and Characteristics

Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures Information

What is the underlying cause and why does PNES develop? What are some of the main characteristics of PNES?

• Patients with PNES typically have some other psychological conditions (not necessarily all of them), including conversion disorder, dissociative disorder, somatization disorder, anxiety disorders, PTSD, and mood disorders.

• According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), the majority of patients with PNES fall within the category of conversion disorder, or functional neurological symptoms disorder.

• Some history of trauma has been observed in 44-100% of PNES patients and 23-77% are reported to have a history of physical or sexual abuse.

• Around 50% carry a diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.

Alexithymia has been detected in many

• Troubled families of origin are often reported.

• Significant problems with anger management/assertiveness can occur

• High anxiety and problems with stress coping are often a driving trigger


• One or more head injuries or neurological conditions

Fybromyalgia, pain syndromes, medically unexplained symptoms, and chronic fatigue syndrome

• Patients with PNES may also have a personality disorder.