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Neurology. 2006 Jun 13;66(11):1644-7.

Late onset psychogenic nonepileptic attacks.

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1
West of Scotland Regional Epilepsy Service, Institute of Neurological Sciences, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow, Scotland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate differences between groups of patients with early vs late onset psychogenic nonepileptic attacks (PNEA).

METHODS:

The authors compared patients with onset of PNEA after age 55 years (n = 26) to patients whose onset of PNEA was before age 55 years (n = 241). The authors examined sociodemographic variables, factors potentially predisposing to PNEA, clinical semiology, and medical and psychiatric background.

RESULTS:

Patients with late onset PNEA were more likely to be male (p = 0.029) (p values are quoted uncorrected for multiple comparisons). They were less likely to report antecedent sexual abuse (p = 0.008), and more likely to have severe physical health problems (p < 0.001) and to report health-related traumatic experiences (p < 0.0001). There were no clear differences in PNEA clinical semiology. There was a trend to better baseline mental health in the late onset group.

CONCLUSIONS:

The data suggest a distinct subgroup of patients with late onset psychogenic nonepileptic attacks, in whom psychological trauma related to poor physical health plays a prominent role.

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