Non-Epileptic Seizures (NES) 

Non-epileptic seizures (NES) are outwardly similar to epileptic seizures but have different underlying causes. Also known as non-electrical seizures, dissociative attacks, functional seizures, or psychogenic non-epileptic events, NES may involve “zoning out” or full loss of awareness and movement. NES are often misdiagnosed as epilepsy, which can be confusing and lead to ineffective treatment since medicines for epilepsy generally do not help NES.

The key difference is that NES does not show abnormal electrical discharges on EEG like epilepsy does. Instead, NES is caused by a temporary circuit disruption in the brain, akin to "circuit overload." This makes it hard to maintain awareness or control the body during an event. Proper diagnosis and tailored treatment are essential for patients with NES.

NES treatment includes:

  • Comprehensive psychiatric evaluation

  • Individual and group psychotherapy

  • Family assessment

  • Medication management if warranted

  • Interdisciplinary team of neurologists and psychiatrists

  • Active participation in your care decisions

  • Education on managing NES triggers

Treatment program attributes:

  • The NES team convenes weekly to collaboratively develop individualized treatment plans aimed at helping each patient reach their health goals.

  • Our aim is to transition your care back to your primary care provider within a six month time frame.

  • We will create a customized transition plan with you to ensure continuity of quality care beyond the program.

  • Based on our experience, we are optimistic that our comprehensive coordinated care model will facilitate improved health and wellbeing.

To learn more about NES treatment, please click on this video.

To make an appointment:

Appointments at the NES clinic are scheduled as needed after diagnosis in our epilepsy monitoring unit. We encourage you to consult your neurologist or primary care provider to discuss your diagnosis and recommended treatment plan. If you have any questions about scheduling appointments within the University of Colorado Outpatient Neurology Clinic, please call 720-848-2080.