Often times, patients or clients are misdiagnosed with seizures, when really they are experiencing manifestations of psychological distress. Epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal brain electrical charges. The PNES attacks look a lot like epileptic seizures. Patients suffering from PNES attacks may experience seizure like activity:
* Temporary loss of attention
Physicians often become suspect of the possible misdiagnosis when frequency, duration, triggers, and movements are unusual in comparison to the neurological examinations. It is important to note that EEGs (electroencephalograms) are helpful in diagnosing epilepsy but they often come back normal even in patients with proven epilepsy. The most reliable way to test for PNES is to do an EEG with video monitoring. Through analysis of the video and EEG recording, analysis can be made with near certainty.
PNES or pseudo-seizures are a type of Somatoform Disorder called Conversion Disorder. After patients are diagnosed, they should be referred to a psychiatrist for continuing care. PNES is treatable and should not be concerned about the stigma that comes with mental illness.
The most important thing with anyone applying for Social Security Benefits with this (or any) condition is well documented treatment. If you are not sure if you suffer from PNES or physical epilepsy, continue to treat for epilepsy but seek help from a mental health professional. Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Document any seizure like activity in a seizure diary. Track when the episodes happen, how often, and what symptoms or activities occur in this diary. Treating with specialists, using a seizure diary, and following any recommended treatment plans by your doctors, are all important steps in proving your disability claim.