Epilepsy Information


Depression, anxiety, and clinical history in Spanish-speaking American patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) compared with Spanish-speaking American patients with epilepsy

Authors: Myers L; Trobliger R; Bonafina M; Vazquez-Casals G; Lancman M; Lancman ME

The objective of this study was to compare Spanish-speaking American patients with epilepsy to Spanish-speaking American patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) on depression, anxiety, and other clinical variables. Background:
Research on Spanish-speaking American patients with epilepsy or PNES is relatively infrequent, with only a few studies on psychopathology in these two patient groups. Studies of English-speaking patients indicate that those with PNES present with greater depression and anxiety and report poorer quality of life (QOL) when compared with persons with epilepsy (PWEs). Similarly, although psychological trauma is observed in both groups, those with PNES appear to have more traumatic exposure compared with PWEs.


This is a retrospective study of 74 Spanish-speaking PWEs (49 women, 31 men) and 34 Spanish-speaking patients with PNES (28 women, 4 men) (2004 to 2017). The diagnosis of epilepsy or PNES was confirmed with video-EEG. Demographic and clinical (psychological trauma, history of psychological treatment, etc.) data were collected, and Spanish versions of the Beck Depression Inventory - second edition (BDI-II) and Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) were completed by the patients.

Patients with PWEs (M = 18.19, SD = 12.89) differed significantly from those with PNES on a measure of depression (BDI-II, (M = 24.12, SD = 11.20); t (92) = -2.22, p = 0.01). In addition, PWEs (M = 15.76, SD = 14.24) also differed significantly when compared with patients with PNES on a measure of anxiety (BAI, (M = 22.46, SD = 14.02); t (93) = -2.05, p = 0.02). Significant differences in clinical and demographic data were also noted.

Spanish-speaking American patients with PNES were significantly more depressed and anxious and reported greater exposure to sexual trauma as compared with PWEs. Furthermore, patients with PNES tended to report more prediagnosis utilization of mental health services than PWEs. After adjusting for potential linear effects of other predictors (e.g., gender, age, seizure frequency, and psychological trauma), only a reported history of psychological trauma had a linear relationship with a depression score while higher seizure frequency and history of mental health treatment had linear relationships with an anxiety score.