Mental health problems can cause seizures

Dissociative disorder

Dissociative disorder (Conversion disorder): Mental illness with physical complaints without a pathological organic cause as an expression of a psychological conflict. This unresolved psychological conflict is shifted to physical phenomena and thereby a sham solution of the conflict is achieved. Women get sick more often than men.

Leading complaints

  • Mentally caused paralysis, "seizures" of various kinds, tremors, sensory disturbances, painful states, memory gaps and blindness or deafness.
  • The doctor notices that the symptoms do not match any of the known organ diseases. For example, "epileptic seizures" are regularly accompanied by no injuries (e.g. tongue bite).
  • The symptoms usually become stronger in front of the “audience”, but they decrease if the environment is not taken into account.
  • The patient believes his problems are caused by the symptoms and not the other way around.

When to the doctor

Immediately if the described complaints are perceived.

The illness

"Arc de cercle": Expression of a dissociative disorder in a patient who suffered from epileptic seizures after an accident
Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart

Dissociative disorders occur mainly as a result of traumatizing experiences (post-traumatic stress) and are a pathological form of experience processing. In the sense of a protective function, unpleasant experiences are split off (dissociated) and the person concerned experiences physical symptoms instead, often with a symbolic character. A paralysis of the legs can z. B. mean that “it can no longer go on”, a blindness that the patient no longer wants to see anything of the world. Dissociative disorders can thus be understood as an attempt to solve a conflict situation. This type of conflict resolution can also be found in children. The symptoms are experienced as stressful and threatening, the patient notices that something is wrong, but cannot assign it. Dissociative disorders must be treated as part of trauma therapy.

That's what the doctor does

Patients with dissociative disorders usually get to the right doctor in a roundabout way: First, they are regularly referred to an internal or other non-psychiatric hospital ward and only when the dissociative disorder is recognized is treatment given psychotherapeutically.

Above all, depth psychologically oriented procedures or behavioral therapy come into question. Which one depends on the individual case, but the decisive factor is a good, stable relationship between therapist and patient and treatment as early as possible in order to avoid consequential damage (physical and social). Ideally, the sick learn to understand their symptom as a signal "from within" and to face the associated problems.


The earlier the disorder is treated psychotherapeutically, the better the chances of recovery.


Sport and exercise, relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson as well as imagination techniques and self-help groups.


Gisela Finke, Dr. med. Arne Schäffler in: Gesundheit heute, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). Revision and update: Dr. med. Sonja Kempinski | last changed on at 16:16

Important note: This article has been written according to scientific standards and has been checked by medical professionals. The information communicated in this article can in no way replace professional advice in your pharmacy. The content cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start therapy.