The topic for this month’s post came to me after finding a thread of comments made by emergency medical professionals (EMPs) about psychogenic non epileptic seizures (http://www.emtlife.com/showthread.php?p=299085). It was saddening to read how EMPs talked about how they are often berated by hospital staff for bringing in patients with non epileptic seizures. I hope reading this moves you to want to do something about it.
Psychogenic non epileptic seizures are a psychological condition. Early trauma sets in motion a lot of secondary problems. Self preservation activates defense mechanisms. Maybe not the best ones, but when you are being traumatized, they may be the only ones you have. Depression, anxiety disorders, post traumatic stress often co-exist with the psychogenic seizures.
There is nothing laughable about the condition. There is no shame in it. And most importantly, the person who carries it suffers deeply. After years of working with patients who have PNES, I have no doubt that there is nothing that most patients want than to get better. So why is it that so many health professionals continue to look down on the patient? Why are patients so often described as “fakers,” abusers of medical resources, and manipulators? Is it any wonder that patients try to hide the fact that their condition is psychological and not physical?
I think a lot of what is fueling this is ignorance.
How can we make it better? If we stay quiet and allow it to go on, we allow retraumatization to go on. I propose we do something to stop this. We need to become active in changing it.
All those who come in contact with non-epileptic seizures need to be educated. After reading the thread above, I started working with an EMT professional to put together an educational program that we hope to take to around the state. How about you? What can you do to help produce change?