Characteristics of patients with confirmed epilepsy and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures in Qatar.
OBJECTIVE: The Middle Eastern country of Qatar opened its first epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) in late 2015. This study compared demographic and clinical characteristics of patients with confirmed epilepsy to those of patients with confirmed psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES). METHODS: Data were collected via retrospective chart review on 113 patients admitted for evaluation to the Qatar national health system EMU between November 2015 and May 2017. RESULTS: Seventy-one patients had a confirmed diagnosis (20 had PNES, 46 had epilepsy, 5 had both PNES and epilepsy). Evaluation in 33 patients was inconclusive, and 9 had other medical conditions. Patients with PNES were significantly more likely to be primary Arabic speakers (p = 0.003), and this difference was not explained by education or employment status. The most common referral request in patients with PNES was for recurrent/refractory seizures (p = 0.011), and there was a trend for patients with PNES to have more frequent seizures compared with patients with epilepsy (daily to several per week versus several times a month or less, p = 0.051). Depression was identified in 47% of patients with epilepsy and 65% of patients with PNES, and patients with PNES had higher mean depression scores on the PHQ-9 than patients with epilepsy (p = 0.014). Patients with PNES experienced significantly more fatigue (p = 0.021). Seventy percent of patients with PNES and 50% of patients with epilepsy reported sleep problems. CONCLUSIONS: The characteristics of patients with epilepsy and PNES at the EMU in Qatar were generally similar to those found worldwide. Patients with PNES more often suffered from frequent depression, sleep problems, and fatigue than those with epilepsy, but these were significant concerns for both groups.