Psychosomatic seizures

  1. Hi, nonnurse lurker here.

    My younger sister is a piece of work, medically. She's bipolar, has asthma, has had a heart condition which was corrected with an ablation, smokes, is, I feel, addicted to prescription drugs, is developing an ulcer, has cysts on her ovaries which are in danger of hemorrhaging, and in the past year, has developed seizures.

    When she first began having the seizures, we immediately though epilepsy, because my mother and aunt both have the condition. I was there in the hospital room with my sister when they induced a seizure while doing an EEG, and they concluded there was nothing electrical about them. All the doctors could give us was that they were somehow, "stress related."

    I believe my sister is a drug seeker, and many times, after a seizure, she has walked away from the emergency room with valium in her system and a prescription for zanax (sp?), her drug of choice. She has been known to take more than twice the prescribed dose at one time...even stealing them out of our older sister's purse while she was distracted.

    Okay, the point. Do I have one?

    Have any of you seen seizures like this? I'm struggling to know if this is something she is consciously doing, or if it is truly out of her control. When I get called at work to hurry to the ER to be with her, sometimes I don't even want to go. And when I get there, I'm always tempted to take the nurses aside and ask if they have her full history...knowing they wouldn't be able to talk to me about it anyway.

    I'm just wondering if I'm being used...along with a lot of other people.

    Thanks,
    Sarah
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    Gosh - I don't think this forum is probably the right avenue for you. It certainly does sound like your sister needs help and it can be very hard on the family on someone who has chronic illness. You might consider talking with a counselor to deal with your feelings. Take care...
  4. by   lucianne
    I can understand your frustration with your sister and your concerns that she is manipulative and drug-seeking. At the very least she seems intent on self-destruction.

    I have had two adolescent patients who faked seizures while they were on the psychiatric unit, but I don't think either of them had the same issues as your sister. Fortunately, they weren't very good at it. One was responsive during a "seizure," (he moved to a safer place to have his seizure when someone told him to). With the other one, the "seizure" stopped whenever the audience was removed from the room.

    Whether her seizures are real or faked, your sister has a problem. Is she being adequately treated for her bipolar disorder? If not, she may be self-medicating. Stealing drugs and taking more than the prescribed amount are big indicators of a substance abuse problem. You might find comfort and strength in a support group such as Al-anon for families of people with substance abuse problems. Even if alcohol isn't her drug of choice, the behaviors of the addicted person and the experiences and feelings of the families are much the same.

    good luck to you and your family
    luci
  5. by   cannycat
    I work in psych and while I have had patients with pseudo(fake) seizures, I have also seen ones with seizures from benzodiazepine (Valium, Xanax and Ativan are all benzo's) withdrawal. Your sister could be having either type of these.
    The best advice I can give you is that of tough love. It sounds like you're the caretaker in the family so this will be hard but you need to stop running to her side every time she has one of these episodes.
    Good luck.

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