Trauma can be deeply embedded in our Psyche, manifesting in diverse physical symptoms and uncommon characteristics. While some symptoms of trauma are common, others are less studied and less known. A relatively new diagnosis of trauma symptomology is Functional Neurological Disorders (FND) or Non-epileptic seizures (NES).
In recent years, Silver Linings has partnered with the NES clinic at UC Anshutz medical center and has had the honor of corroborating with their interdisciplinary team comprised of social workers, psychiatrists, and doctors. Through case consultations, trainings, and repeated communication with the NES clinic, the therapists at Silver Linings are now knowledgeable on NES. We utilize behavioral health interventions focused on identifying the underlying mental health causations of non-epileptic seizures and have had positive results amongst our clients.
Non-epileptic seizures, otherwise known as psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) or functional seizures, are events that resemble epileptic seizures. The main difference is these seizures are NOT caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain (neurological causation) as is the case with epilepsy. Instead, they are typically associated with psychological factors, emotional distress, or even trauma.
NES seizures can appear very similar to epileptic seizures, involving similar symptoms such as loss of consciousness, convulsions, and altered movements. However, unlike epilepsy, they do not originate from abnormal electrical discharges in the brain.
Since Non-epileptic seizures are considered a psychogenic disorder (linked to psychological or traumatic events), they are treated differently than seizures of a neurological origin. NES seizures may be a way for individuals to cope with or express their emotional distress. NES seizures can serve as a maladaptive coping mechanism, allowing the body to physically process blocked trauma responses.
NES seizures are typically diagnosed and ruled out through video electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring. EEG monitoring can help differentiate between epileptic and non-epileptic seizures by recording brain activity during an episode.
Treatment for non-epileptic seizures typically involves psychoeducation followed by behavioral health therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR have been helpful in addressing the underlying emotional or psychological factors that may be triggering the seizures. It’s essential to work with healthcare professionals to properly diagnose and manage these seizures, as they can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and well-being.