Regulation of emotions in individuals experiencing psychogenic non-epileptic seizures
Despite the long history of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES), relatively little is known about the mechanisms that cause and maintain this condition. Emerging research evidence suggests that patients with PNES might have difficulties in regulating their emotions. However, much remains to be learned about the nature of these difficulties and the emotional responses of individuals with PNES. The present study aimed to gain a detailed understanding of emotion regulation processes in patients with PNES, by examining differences between PNES patients and a healthy control group with regards to intensity of emotional reactions, understanding of one’s emotional experience, beliefs about emotions and control of emotional expression. \ud A cross-sectional design was used to compare the PNES group (n=56) and the healthy control group (n=88) on a range of self-report measures. \ud Participants with a diagnosis of PNES reported significantly poorer understanding of their emotions, more negative beliefs about emotions and more control of emotional expression than participants in the control group. Whilst intensity of emotions did not discriminate between the groups, poor understanding and negative beliefs about emotions were found to be significant predictors of PNES, even after controlling for age, education level and emotional distress. Furthermore, the presence of some emotion regulation difficulties was associated with self reported seizure severity. \ud This study provides some evidence supporting emotion regulation difficulties in PNES population, particularly with regards to poor understanding of emotions and negative beliefs about feelings. These findings need to be replicated in future research before definite conclusions can be drawn. The need for tailored psychological therapies addressing specific emotion regulation difficulties is highlighted.
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