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Functional Seizures Services

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Experienced by approximately 10% of people with epilepsy, functional seizures are common yet highly misunderstood. Currently, services solely focused on functional seizures at the community level are largely unavailable in Ontario and that’s what inspired us to develop this new program.

Read below to learn more about functional seizures and the support and services that we can provide for you.

If you require support or have any questions about our Functional Seizures Services, you can contact Stephanie Aniol, at: stephanie@epilepsytoronto.org or (416) 964 9095 x 224

people holding hands at support group

WHAT ARE FUNCTIONAL SEIZURES?

3 people with notebooks in a classroom

Functional seizures are known by many names, such as:

  • Non-epileptic seizures (NES)
  • Dissociative seizures
  • Stress seizures
  • And more!

Functional seizures are different from epileptic seizures because they reflect a temporary problem with the functioning of a person’s nervous system. They are classified as a functional neurological disorder, of which there are many types. There are a multitude of factors that we know contribute to the onset functional seizures, but everyone’s experiences with functional seizures are unique and everyone’s story is different.

SERVICES OFFERED

Our Adult Services Department now offers programming specifically for people living with functional seizures, and their caregivers. Our programming includes:

See below for more information about these services.

If you are interested in accessing these services, please have your doctor fill out and send in our referral form. If you have any questions, please contact Stephanie Aniol: stephanie@epilepsytoronto.org or (416) 964-9095 x 224

Functional Seizures Webpage (2)

OUR SERVICES

Functional Seizures 101

These educational sessions are for people who want to learn more about functional seizures. During this session, participants will learn about:

  • The difference between epileptic seizures, functional seizures, and physiologic non-epileptic events
  • The factors that can lead a person to start experiencing functional seizures
  • Functional seizure first aid
  • Online resources for people living with functional seizures, and their caregivers
  • Steps you can take towards the path to recovery
  • Treatment options

Click here to sign up for an upcoming webinar!

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Anyone interested in learning more about functional seizures, can attend this education session, as long as they are accessing the session from a place in Ontario

Neurobehavioural Therapy (NBT)

Neurobehavioural therapy (NBT) is an evidence-based, psychotherapy program for people diagnosed with functional seizures. The therapy is intended to help people manage the aspects of the condition that they can control, and research has shown that people who undergo NBT may see a decrease in seizure frequency, intensity, and aggravation associated with functional seizures. People who undergo NBT may also see an improvement of other symptoms that can sometimes accompany functional seizures, such as mood issues, and experience an overall improvement in quality of life and functioning.

The program takes approximately 3-4 months to complete and involves meeting with a counsellor for weekly sessions. Eligibility for our NBT requires a doctor who is familiar with you and your medical history to verify that you meet the eligibility criteria below.

Epilepsy Toronto is conducting research to learn how this therapy can help people diagnosed with functional seizures. By participating in the NBT program, you will also be consenting to participate in the associated research.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Lives in Ontario and is 18 or older
  • Diagnosed with clinically established or documented functional seizures by a clinician experienced in diagnosis of seizure disorders
  • Experiences ongoing functional seizures (at least 1 functional seizure in month prior to accessing psychotherapy)
  • Mixed functional seizures and epileptic seizures acceptable in circumstances where patient has been assisted by their doctor in clearly delineating between their functional seizures and epileptic seizures
  • Able to commit and engage with a 12-16 week psychotherapy program that includes reading, writing, and activities in between appointments
  • Fluent in speaking and writing English
  • Access to stable internet connection and personal device, and/or able to meet for sessions at our downtown Toronto office
  • A psychiatric assessment or psychological evaluation since onset of seizures (preferred but not required) 

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Current self-harm
  • Current suicidality with intent to harm
  • Active substance use or dependence that could interfere with therapy
  • Serious illness outside of functional seizures that could interfere with therapy
  • A level of cognitive impairment that would prevent participation in a time-limited structured psychotherapy using a workbook

Please ask your doctor to send us this completed referral form.

Living with Functional Seizures Support Group

We will start offering a support group for people living with functional seizures beginning in the fall of 2022. We are not currently accepting referrals for this support group but check back here or sign up for our Adult Services E-Newsetter to get updates on this group this summer.

Eligibility Criteria: 

  • Has received a diagnosis of clinically established or documented functional seizures
  • Is living in Ontario and is 18 years of age or older

If you are interested in accessing any of our functional seizures services, please have your doctor complete and send in this referral form.

If you have any questions about our functional seizures programming or research, please call our office at: (416)964-9095, or contact Stephanie Aniol: stephanie@epilepsytoronto.org or (416) 964-9095 x 224

Keep updated with all of our upcoming Functional Seizures Services and other Adult Services programs by signing up for our Adult Services ENewsletter.