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Epilepsy

Nonepilepsy seizures with pregnancy

10/21/2008

Question:

My daughter is 7 weeks pregnant, 24 years old and has developed nonepileptic seizures. She is hospitalized with EEG monitoring and video monitoring. She has had 4-5 episodes daily for the last 5 days. Have you seen this with pregnancy and does it sometimes disappear like it came?

Answer:

Psychogenic seizures are often called non-epileptic seizures though the symptoms may lead patients and health care providers to believe they are a sign of epilepsy. However, epileptic seizures are caused by sudden abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures are attacks that may look like epileptic seizures, but are not caused by abnormal brain electrical discharges. They are stress or emotionally related. Psychogenic seizures are most often misdiagnosed as epilepsy. These seizures are not rare - in fact, one in five patients sent to an epilepsy specialist for difficult seizures is found to have psychogenic seizures. The treatment of psychogenic seizures is not with seizure medication but require psychiatric or psychology consultation to find the underlying stress that is the cause. I have seen a number of cases of nonepileptic seizures develop during pregnancy. Early identification and early treatment are associated with a good outcome.

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Response by:

David M Ficker, MD David M Ficker, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati