Stress can lead to epilepsy symptoms

Stress can serve as a trigger for symptoms of epilepsy, new research has suggested. Carried out by Physicians and Psychologists at Johns Hopkins University, the study found more than one-third of patients admitted to the facility's in-patient epilepsy monitoring unit for treatment of intractable seizures experience these symptoms, as opposed to enduring a true seizure disorder.

According to the findings, stress-related behaviours can cause people to display signs similar to those shown by individuals with the neurological disorder - such as far-off stares, convulsions and uncontrollable movements.

Jason Brandt, a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences and Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, noted these people act as though they have an organic brain diseases, but really they lack the coping mechanisms needed to deal with stresses.

He said: "It turns out that their life stresses weren't all that high, but they're very sensitive to stress and they don't deal with it well."

Professor Gus Baker from the University of Liverpool, a Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the British Psychological Society, commented: "It is well recognised that there is a significant misdiagnosis rate for epilepsy and psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES). 

"This publication strengthens the recognition of the need to fully investigate the diagnosis of both conditions. 

"The International League Against Epilepsy has established a working party to provide guidelines on how to manage patients presenting with PNES."