What are dissociative seizures?

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Dissociative seizures, also called non-epileptic attack disorder.

They are unexpected attacks that many people experience.

They are often very distressing and frightening.

They can be of different types and vary widely between different people.

Diagram (to be updated) below and voice recording 1 (Saif)


Script below (to be retained on the page)

Dissociative seizures can include events of loss of consciousness, going blank, episodes of shaking and episodes of falling to the floor. They are usually very disruptive to people’s lives and can have devastating effects on a person’s ability to live a normal life and do everyday things.

Although dissociative seizures may look like epilepsy or fainting, they are caused by completely different reasons. Therefore, the approach to getting better is different.

Video below - to be removed

What else is it called?

There are a lot of names used to describe dissociative seizures.

This is because doctors in different countries have used different names over the years. This can be confusing for people trying to find out more about the condition. 

In this App, we will call them dissociative seizures. 

Are symptoms different for everyone?

Different people may have different types of dissociate seizures.

The symptoms people experience in a dissociative seizure may vary a lot. 

Some people may go blank during an attack. They may not hear what is being said to them and may not respond.

Other people may develop a tremor or shaking during their dissociative seizures.

Some people may also fall during their attacks with or without shaking.

The wide variety of symptoms means that each person needs to have their symptoms considered carefully to get an accurate diagnosis. This then allows the best advice and treatment. No one size can fit all.

How common is it?

Dissociative seizures (non-epileptic attack disorder) are very common.

They can affect people of all age groups and genders. They happen in children as well as older adults. They can occur in those without any other illness or in those with other physical and mental health illness.

Up to 1 in 10 people with new symptoms, suspected to have epilepsy and referred to clinic for diagnosis, turn out to have dissociative seizures.

Up to 1 in 4 people referred to clinic with what is thought to be very bad chronic epilepsy not responding to epilepsy treatment, turn out to have dissociative seizures.

Who does it affect?

Dissociative seizures can affect anyone.

They occur in all parts of the world and people of all cultures and age groups including both young and old people.

Dissociative seizures may occur in people with or without other physical or mental health illness.

They can also occur at times in some people with epilepsy.


How does it impact people?

Dissociative seizures (non-epileptic attack disorder) are not dangerous by themselves as they do not affect breathing or the heart. However, they can still have a devastating impact on people’s life. They can be very disruptive and distressing. Their effects can be far reaching and may include:

  • Loss of independence
  • Loss of employment and income opportunities
  • Loss of driving licence
  • Absences from school, college and university
  • Impact on relationships
  • Impact on mental health
  • Impact on physical health
  • Reduced access to hobbies and important activities

People can often struggle with the impact dissociative seizures have on their lives. This can be stressful and may lead to people disengaging from parts of their life. However, this in turn leads to longer term consequences for people and their families.