COgnitive Behavioural Therapy for Dissociative (Non-Epileptic) Seizures

A Randomised Controlled Trial

CODES blue jpeg

What can cause Dissociative Seizures to happen?


Dissociative seizures are caused by the sudden experience of ‘dissociation’. This has many different causes.


Trying to explain why they happen is similar to trying to explain why panic attacks happen. Dissociative seizures are not the same as panic attacks, but they share some common features.

Dissociative Seizures

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Dissociative Seizures

Muybridge NES

Some people with dissociative seizures describe having attacks that are clearly brought on by stress. Seizures may be brought on by an upsetting argument, or when you’re in a busy, noisy place such as a supermarket.


It’s more common for people to have seizures that seem to “come out of the blue” when they’re relaxed. This is probably because it’s easier to ‘dissociate’ or go into a trance like state when you’re relaxed.


Studies have shown that in the warning phase of dissociative seizures people can have physical symptoms that show their bodies are in a state of red alert. These symptoms include a racing pulse, rapid breathing, and sweating. If people are conscious during the seizures, they often describe feeling being “there but not there” or feeling “numb”. In some people the brain may be ‘switching off’  because it gets rid of the horrible feelings that people get as part of the seizure.