There are vast amounts of medically recognized neurological conditions today. However, a once medically dismissed state, originally named pseudo-seizures, has only recently become widely accepted in the medical field. The medical field labelled it as ‘pseudo’ because, in early medicinal theory, researchers thought the patient brought this on.
It was not until recently that this condition was medically validated and renamed ‘non-epileptic attack disorder.’ This validation is due to the research conducted by the NHS into the connection between emotions and neurology. The study has found that non-epileptic seizures are due to a break in the link between the body and the brain. The National Library of Medicine has identified that only 0.05% of a test sample of 100,000 patients have this condition. In addition, 70% of this result are women. With these findings and redefinition of this condition, this article aims to raise awareness of this uncommon condition, hoping we can change the societal stigma against NEAD.
Patients diagnosed with NEAD experience a breakdown of the link between the brain and body. This breakdown manifests itself into a seizure. Typically, the study of this link is due to overexposure to pressure. According to Medical News, Today NEAD results from psychological, neurological, or physical reactions to trauma. Furthermore, a study in 2013 illustrated that 73.7% of patients who live with NEAD had undergone traumatic events. The Epilepsy Society additionally notes that a physical cause could either be hypoglycemia or an issue with the heart. The heart issue is yet to be identified and is under investigation.
Patients who experience NEAD often describe these seizures as ‘dissociative.’ These seizures can often look similar to epileptic seizures, although the causes and biology behind them are vastly different. In a dissociative episode, electrical disruptions in the brain do not occur. An electroencephalogram (EEG), a device that measures electrical activity in the brain, will help to identify this.
Unlike other neurological conditions, NEAD is not wholly treatable through medicine. Due to the atypical circumstances of the situation, the most effective treatment available is various types of therapy. Psychotherapy is typically the first treatment offered to patients. Psychotherapy has been found to lower the frequency of a patient's seizures by as much as 50%. A further study has found that for 50%-80% of patients, this treatment eliminates seizures. Doctors can also advise or prescribe other forms of therapy, such as CBT or mindfulness therapy. In addition to this therapy, patients must maintain a close relationship with their neurologist because they will ensure aftercare is equally as effective as therapy.
In conclusion, there is a vital difference between NEAD and epileptic attacks, which boils down to the neurological activity in the brain. The distinction is pivotal to understanding the prevention and aftercare of a seizure. This disorder is closely related to mental health issues, hence the importance of this article. In the medical field and society, we must make it a habit to differentiate the two to ensure the safety of individuals.
Image source: non epileptic attack disorder - Bing images
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