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What are psychogenic seizures?

Psychogenic seizures are also called psychogenic non-epileptic seizures or PNES. They can look like an epileptic seizure and include similar involuntary movements, such as tongue biting and shaking. But unlike epileptic seizures (and many other types of seizures), they are not caused by an electrical discharge in the brain. Instead, they are thought to be caused by stress, a panic attack or another type of psychological trauma. Because these seizures are not caused by an electrical discharge in the brain, they cannot be treated with antiseizure drugs. Instead, they are usually treated with cognitive behavioral therapy to help people reduce stress and manage psychological triggers. People with epilepsy can have PNES (non-epileptic), as well as epileptic seizures.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.