HEALTHY LIVING
08/12/2013 11:57 am ET

Stress Seizure: Did 'Emotional Stress' Factor Into Chris Brown's Non-Epileptic Seizure?

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Chris Brown's seizure early Friday was caused by "emotional stress," according to news reports.

The seizure, which was non-epileptic, occurred at 1:09 a.m. at the Record Plant recording studios in Hollywood last Friday, HuffPost Celebrity reported.

"His doctor tended to him this afternoon and attributes the NES [non-epileptic seizure] to intense fatigue and extreme emotional stress, both due to the continued onslaught of unfounded legal matters and the nonstop negativity," according to a statement from Brown's representative, as published by the Los Angeles Times. The publication further noted that Brown may be under stress right now due to legal battles associated with a hit-and-run incident, as well as the upcoming release of his new album.

Indeed, not all seizures are caused by the neurological disorder epilepsy, which the Mayo Clinic explained is when the brain's nerve cell activity is disturbed. A small study from Johns Hopkins University researchers published last year showed that more than one-third of seizures patients who were admitted to the university's epilepsy monitoring unit didn't have epilepsy at all, and actually had seizures triggered by emotional stress -- what are called "psychogenic non-epileptic seizures."

"These patients behave as if they have an organic brain disease, but they don’t," study researcher Jason Brandt, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and neurology at the university, said in a statement. "And it turns out that their life stresses weren't all that high, but they're very sensitive to stress and they don't deal with it well."

The University of South Florida defines a psychogenic non-epileptic seizure as such:

Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures are attacks that look like epileptic seizures, but are not caused by abnormal electrical discharges. They are stress-related or “emotional.” They are sometimes called pseudoseizures, but "psychogenic non-epileptic seizures" (PNES) is now the preferred term." …

PNES, unlike epileptic seizures, are not the result of a physical brain disease. Rather, they are emotional, stress-induced, and result from traumatic psychological experiences, sometimes from the forgotten past. It is well known that emotional or psychological stresses can produce physical reactions in people with no physical illness.

A doctor may be able to differentiate a seizure that is non-epileptic from one that is epileptic through the symptoms. A non-epileptic seizure may have symptoms that more include more falling and shaking, and less include symptoms of loss of attention/staring, the University of South Florida explained. An electroencephalogram can help to diagnose epilepsy.

Stress can also have an impact on seizures for people with epilepsy, Cornell University notes. Lil Wayne, who has epilepsy, said that he was hospitalized earlier this year for experiencing seizures that were brought on by too much stress and too little rest.

For more scary effects of stress, click through the slideshow below.

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