Veterans who suffer from seizures related to their emotions and not caused by epilepsy are often undiagnosed for a good deal longer than civilians with the same condition, according to a new study.

The condition is called “psychogenic non-epileptic seizure” and is generally believed to be based in the patient’s mind rather than being caused by epilepsy. But since the condition is psychologically-based, it can be hard to diagnose. It doesn’t help speed the diagnosis when the seizures (both epileptic and psychogenic) are virtually the same at first glance, says Dr. Martin Salinsky of the Portland VA Medical Center and Oregon Health and Sciences University.

Salinsky and his colleagues reached their conclusions after reviewing the medical records of 50 veterans and 50 civilians who had been diagnosed with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures. They learned that it took an average of five years for the veterans to be diagnosed with the condition, compared to the one year it took for the civilians to get the diagnosis.

In at least 60 percent of the veterans, the seizures had been diagnosed instead as a reaction to a traumatic brain injury. The results of this study have been published in the Sept. 6 issue of Neurology. So far, it is not clear why the veterans’ diagnoses take so long; however, it may be attributed to the lack of epilepsy monitoring units in VA medical centers. Salinsky also said that a delay in diagnosis can prolong a patient’s disability and that many of the veterans received epilepsy drugs before they were finally correctly diagnosed.

Salinsky noted that popular epilepsy drugs like Topamax won’t help with this condition and may actually cause serious, unwanted side effects. Topamax is known to cause birth defects in the babies of women who take the drug while pregnant. Common birth defects caused by Topamax include cleft palate, PPHN and brain, heart and lung defects. If your baby was born with birth defects after exposure to Topamax, contact attorney Greg Jones today for a free consultation. I am experienced at fighting Topamax birth defects lawsuits and may be able to get you money for your baby’s injuries.