Pseudoseizure: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Pseudoseizure (PS), also known as psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), is an appearance that is similar to epileptic seizure, but without its characteristic electrical discharges.

PS actually is conversion disorder, belong to psychiatry. Patients cannot express their mental pain or negative emotions in normal ways, instead expressing by uncontrolled body movements.

PS episodes usually exceed 2-3 mins, meanwhile, it can stop gradually or suddenly.


Causes of PS are various, mainly including:

  • Mental disorder
    Patients with PS often have mild or severe mental disorders. Prognosis of mild ones is better.
  • Environmental factor
    Abuse and traumatic brain injury are important factors for PS. Other environmental factors include family, marriage and stress from work and daily life.


Children with PS usually express long-term gaze or non-response, while adolescents behave similarly as adults.

Symptoms of PS are various, including:

  • Limb twitching, head swing (similar to epileptic seizure)
  • Abnormal behaviors
    Action: look around, move objects, undress, kick, hit, even outrage, etc.
    Sound: cry, shout, scream, etc.
  • Non-response
    Some patients may have no action, no response, however, they usually can recall the around condition. According to some studies, they are actually conscious at that time.
  • Breath holding, cough, dizziness, hard breathing, palpitation, chest pain, anxiousness, etc.


Patients with PS need take treatment as soon as they are diagnosed, because its prognosis is closely related to the lasting time of the illness. The later patients take treatments, the higher the risk of getting worse. There is a higher probability of stopping reoccurring if the patients can take timely treatments.

Psychotherapy is the best way for PS, patients need have a professional treatment from a psychiatrist. At the same time, patients’ family can encourage patients to insist taking treatments.

For patients who have mental disorders, doctors may use antidepressants.

Consult the doctors for your specific treatments.

Keywords: pseudoseizure; PS; psychogenic non-epileptic seizures; PNES; psychiatry; mental disorder.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.