Patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures report more severe migraine than patients with epilepsy

Morgan A. Shepard, Annelise Silva, Amaal J. Starling, Matthew T. Hoerth, Dona E.C. Locke, Kristine Ziemba, Catherine D. Chong, Todd J. Schwedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Purpose Clinical observations suggest that psychogenic non-epileptic seizure (PNES) patients often have severe migraine, more severe than epilepsy patients. Investigations into migraine characteristics in patients with PNES are lacking. In this study we tested the hypothesis that, compared to epilepsy patients, PNES patients have more severe migraine, with more frequent and longer duration attacks that cause greater disability. Method In this observational study, 633 patients with video-EEG proven epilepsy or PNES were identified from the Mayo Clinic Epilepsy Monitoring Unit database. Contacted patients were screened for migraine via a validated questionnaire, and when present, data regarding migraine characteristics were collected. Two-sample t-tests, chi square analyses, and Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare migraine characteristics in PNES patients to those of epilepsy patients. Results Data from 43 PNES patients with migraine and 29 epilepsy patients with migraine were available. Compared to epilepsy patients, PNES patients reported having more frequent headaches (mean 15.1 ± 9.8 vs. 8.1 ± 6.6 headache days/month, p <.001), more frequent migraine attacks (mean 6.5 ± 6.3 vs. 3.8. ± 4.1 migraines/month, p =.028), longer duration migraines (mean 39.5 ± 28.3 vs. 27.3 ± 20.1 h, p =.035), and more frequently had non-visual migraine auras (78.6% vs. 46.7% of patients with migraine auras, p =.033). Migraine-related disability scores were not different between PNES and epilepsy patients (median 39, interquartile range 89 vs. 25, interquartile range 60.6, p =.15). Conclusion Compared to epilepsy patients with migraine, PNES patients with migraine report having a more severe form of migraine with more frequent and longer duration attacks that are more commonly associated with non-visual migraine auras.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-82
Number of pages5
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Epilepsy
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Pseudoseizures
  • Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures report more severe migraine than patients with epilepsy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this