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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2004 Jul;75(7):1009-12.

Pseudosleep events in patients with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures: prevalence and associations.

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West of Scotland Regional Epilepsy Service, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, UK.



To determine the prevalence and clinical associations of a history of events during sleep in patients with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES, pseudoseizures), and to compare the prevalence of a history of sleep events with that in poorly controlled epilepsy.


Prospective study by semistructured interview of the history of event patterns and their clinical associations in 142 patients with video EEG confirmed PNES, and 100 patients with poorly controlled epilepsy.


84/142 patients with PNES (59%) and 47/100 with epilepsy (47%) gave a history of events during sleep (p = 0.062). In patients with PNES, significant associations were found between a history of sleep events and: convulsive clinical semiology, antiepileptic drug treatment, fatigue, suicide attempts, mood disorder, and physical abuse. A particularly strong association with social security benefit was also found (odds ratio 4.0, p<0.001).


The prevalence of a history of sleep events is similar in PNES and epilepsy, and is of no value in discriminating between the two, although a history of events occurring exclusively during sleep does suggest epileptic seizures. The clinical associations found indicate that a combination of psychopathological and external influences may be important in determining whether or not a patient with PNES gives a history of events during sleep.

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