Quality of life in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and epilepsy: The role of somatization and alexithymia

Laurie Dempsey Wolf, Joseph G. Hentz, Kristine S. Ziemba, Kristin A. Kirlin, Katherine H. Noe, Matthew T. Hoerth, Amy Z. Crepeau, Joseph I. Sirven, Joseph F. Drazkowski, Dona E.C. Locke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

It is clear that many individuals with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNESs) often present with poorer quality of life compared with those with epileptic seizures (ESs). However, the mechanisms linking seizure diagnosis to quality-of-life outcomes are much less clear. Alexithymia and somatization are emotional markers of psychological functioning that may explain these differences in quality of life. In the current study, patients from an epilepsy monitoring unit with vEEG-confirmed diagnosis of PNESs or ESs were compared on measures of alexithymia, somatization, quality of life, and a variety of demographic and medical variables. Two models using alexithymia and somatization individually as mediators of the relations between diagnosis and quality of life were tested. Results indicated that patients with PNESs had significantly poorer quality of life compared with those with ESs. Alexithymia was associated with poor quality of life in both groups but did not differentiate between diagnostic groups. Further, alexithymia did not mediate the relationship between diagnosis and quality of life. Somatization was associated with poor quality of life, and patients with PNESs reported greater somatization compared with patients with ESs. Somatization also significantly mediated the relationship between diagnosis and quality of life. In conclusion, somatization may be one mechanism affecting poor quality of life among patients with PNESs compared with ESs and should be a target of comprehensive treatments for PNESs. Alexithymia proved to be an important factor impacting quality of life in both groups and should also be targeted in treatment for patients with PNESs and patients with ESs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-88
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Volume43
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

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Keywords

  • Alexithymia
  • Epilepsy
  • Psychogenic seizures
  • Quality of life
  • Somatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

Wolf, L. D., Hentz, J. G., Ziemba, K. S., Kirlin, K. A., Noe, K. H., Hoerth, M. T., Crepeau, A. Z., Sirven, J. I., Drazkowski, J. F., & Locke, D. E. C. (2015). Quality of life in psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and epilepsy: The role of somatization and alexithymia. Epilepsy and Behavior, 43, 81-88. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.yebeh.2014.12.010