Objective Functional neurological symptoms may develop as a result of altered patterns of emotional processing. We aimed to determine whether emotional processing differs between adults with functional neurological symptoms (seizures, n=30 and sensorimotor symptoms, n=18) and healthy controls (n=44).
Method Emotional processing was measured via two self-report questionnaires: the Beliefs about Emotions Scale (BES) and the Emotional Processing Scale (EPS-25). The severity of current anxiety and depression symptoms was measured by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS).
Results Patients with functional seizures, but not those with functional sensorimotor symptoms, reported significantly more difficulty with emotional processing than healthy controls, particularly with emotional suppression (p=0.045) and avoidance (p=0.003) and impoverished emotional experience (p=0.004). These differences did not remain significant after controlling for anxiety and depression.
Conclusion Although some aspects of emotional processing differ between patients with functional seizures and healthy controls, these differences may be attributable to anxiety and depression. Further longitudinal studies are required to fully explore these associations.
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