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Psychogenic Pseudosyncope: Clinical Features, Diagnosis and Management

Psychogenic Pseudosyncope (PPS) is the appearance of Transient Loss of Consciousness (TLOC) in which movements are absent, but there are no hemodynamic and electroencephalographic modifications as are induced by gravitational challenges which characterize syncope and true loss of consciousness. For younger and adult populations, a detailed history is crucial for the diagnosis. Clinical clues that should raise the suspicion for PPS include prolonged duration of the LOC, eye closure during the episode, unusual triggers, no recognizable prodromes and the high frequency of attacks. The presence of an established diagnosis of syncope should not deter from the concomitant diagnosis of PPS. The gold standard for a proper diagnosis of PPS is the documentation by a tilt test of normal hemodynamic and electroencephalographic parameters, when recorded during an attack. Treatment of PPS, based on the clear and empathetic communication of the diagnosis, can lead to an immediate reduction of attack frequency and lower the need to call on emergency services. Pharmacological treatment of associated psychiatric disorders and psychological interventions may be beneficial in patients with PPS. Cognitive-behavioural therapy holds the most reliable evidence of efficacy. In the present review, we aimed to address PPS with historical aspects, main clinical features and diagnostic tests, current diagnostic classification, underlying neurobiological abnormalities, management and therapy.

Credits: Alessandra Alciati, Dana Shiffer, Franca Dipaola, Franca Barbic, Raffaello Furlan

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