Anxiety and Seizures

Anxiety and Seizures: How are they related to each other?

Anxiety and Seizures

We can consider anxiety as a natural human emotion under certain circumstances. In most cases, it is for a short period, but in some, it becomes chronic and affects every aspect of life. Anxiety can adversely affect your body and mind and increase the risk of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), also known as pseudoseizures. Know How are Anxiety and Seizures related to each other?

Can anxiety cause seizures?

Seizures are the short period of involuntary electrical activity in the brain that results in several changes in the body.

The chronic condition that causes unpredictable recurrent seizures is known as epilepsy.

Doctors consider stress and anxiety as the leading cause of Seizures. According to the British Epilepsy Association, stress and anxiety are among the most commonly self-reported seizure triggers in people who have epilepsy.

What did you understand by the terms psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) or pseudoseizures?

Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are the extreme response to stress and anxiety and are therefore considered psychiatric.

According to the database provided by the National Institute of Health, psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) or pseudoseizures are a type of functional neurological disorder (FND) or conversion disorder. Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures can cause due to emotional stress that causes unexplainable physical symptoms.

You are more like suffer from psychogenic nonepileptic seizures if you struggle to manage anxiety, stress, and other traumatic emotions.

Can a panic attack cause a seizure?

Intense and sudden episodes of anxiety are known as panic attacks. You may feel that you only get anxious while you are experiencing panic attacks. Some common symptoms of panic attacks include the following:

  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Trouble in swallowing
  • Severe pain in the chest
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Fearfulness

Panic attacks are not a cause of neurological seizures in people without epilepsy. Still, there may be some relation between panic attacks and PNES in people who experience them.

According to research, approximately 83 % of people who have psychogenic nonepileptic seizures also experience panic attacks, and up to 30 percent of individuals with voluntarily induced hyperventilation also experienced this disorder.


How can you distinguish between panic attacks and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)?

Panic attacks and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) or pseudoseizures cause due to stress and anxiety, but they are very different from each other.

Panic attacks are sudden and intense episodes of anxiety and fear without any apparent reason. They are impulsive and usually last for 10 minutes. The severeness of panic attack symptoms varies from person to person.

On the other hand, psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) come slowly and last for more duration than panic attacks. In some cases, individuals with PNES experience panic attacks, and in some cases, they don’t.

Symptoms of psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)

Sometimes psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) and neurological seizures may look similar, but there is a significant difference between these conditions. The common PNES symptoms include the following:

  • Difficulty in moving head
  • Unsynchronized movement of the body
  • Muscles contractions
  • Fluttering or closed eyes
  • Mood swings
  • Forgetfulness

PNES symptoms tend to appear more gradually and last longer than in neurological seizures.

How to diagnose psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)?

To confirm that you are going through psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), your doctor will advise you to get hospitalized for testing and have Video-electroencephalography (EEG) to diagnose your condition.

When you are in hospital, you will be connected to an electroencephalography (EEG) machine and a video monitoring system. An electroencephalography (EEG) machine will track your brain’s activities, and, on the other hand, a video monitoring system will record the physical symptoms.

In some cases, your health expert may advise you to take a CT scan or MRI.

They may also recommend you for additional psychological testing to narrow down any potential causes or triggers for your psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES).

How can you treat and manage psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES)?

Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are functional neurological disorders that can be managed and treated with certain medications, therapies, and certain lifestyle changes.

Your doctor may prescribe you take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat and manage symptoms of Anxiety and PNES. He will prescribe you this medication depending on certain factors such as:

  • Your health condition
  • Other health disorders you are suffering from
  • Allergies

Apart from medicines, your doctor will also recommend you to take Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It will help you to manage anxiety and reduce the frequency of pseudoseizures. Another Psychotherapy that your doctor can prescribe you is trauma-focused therapy; it will be more suitable for individuals suffering from trauma-based disorders who experience pseudoseizures.

Taking medicines and therapies with some positive change in your lifestyle will help you manage and treat psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) more effectively. The following are some healthy habits that you should include in your daily life:

  • Sleep properly
  • Exercise daily
  • Eat health
  • Indulge yourself in yoga or meditation
  • Keep yourself active all-day

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