It is important for neuropsychiatrists treating non epileptic seizures and somatoform disorders to lay all their cards on the table with the patients and their family, Curt LaFrance, Director of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioural Neurology, Rhode Island Hospital, U.S., said.
Informing the patients and families about the condition would also help decide whether patients require pharmacotherapy or psychotherapy, he added. Prof. Curt was delivering the 2nd Madhuram Narayanan Endowment Lecture on “An approach to the person with unexplained medical symptoms –viewed through the looking glass of non-epileptic seizures,” at the Voluntary Health Services (VHS) Hospital on Wednesday.
He defined Somatoform Disorders as the condition among people less than 30 years of age presenting with numerous medical problems occurring over many years and resulting in treatment seeking or significant impairment. The patients had each of the following criteria, in addition to other problems: four pain symptoms, two gastrointestinal symptoms, one sexual symptom and one pseudoneurological symptom, he explained. It is important to remember that the person is not faking the symptoms or malingering.
Part of the treatment is to help the patients use verbal expressions of distress rather than somatic, Prof. LaFrance explained. His Centre at Rhode Island started treating co-morbidities such as depression, anxiety and impulsivity in patients.
They also developed the Fear Avoidance Model to treat such patients who live in fear of the next seizure, anticipating it and creating a catastrophe of it.
S.Prabhakar Rao, executive director, Corporate Affairs, Chemplast Sanmar, presented the Award to Prof. LaFrance and explained Sanmar’s association with VHS.