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Conversion Disorder

What is Conversion Disorder?

It is a neurological condition that causes physical symptoms even though the doctors cannot find any injury or reason to explain such symptoms. In other words, an individual’s body has converted your emotional and psychological stress into a physical response. It might seem strange, but an individual with conversion disorder CANNOT control the symptoms.

It is important to note that women are more likely to experience such disorder as well as people who have a history of emotional trauma. Additionally, individuals who have a hard time expressing emotion or talking about their feelings, are more likely to experience such disorder.

NOTE: It is sometimes referred to as Functional Neurologic Disorder.

What are the symptoms?

Majority of the symptoms in Conversion Disorder include the nervous system (i.e. spinal cord, brain or other nerves):

  • Numbness or paralysis
  • Loss of smell of speech
  • An individual may experience tunnel vision, double vision, or blindness
  • Uncontrollable movements
  • Shaking
  • Weakness
  • Loss of balance
  • Seizures
  • Episodes of unresponsiveness
  • Difficulty walking, for example
  • Slurred speech or loss in ability to speak
  • Have a hard time hearing

What causes/triggers Conversion Disorder?

Although the specific cause is not known, it is believed that it is a way that an individual’s brain deals with emotional strife. However, stressful events, emotional or physical trauma, or changes in brain function can trigger such disorder as well.

How is Conversion Disorder treated?

Psychotherapy is the most common way to treat such disorder, including the following:

  • Hypnosis
  • Counseling
  • Occupational Therapy or Physical Therapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
  • Relaxation Techniques (i.e. meditation or yoga)

How can Conversion Disorder be prevented?

Taking in mind that such disorder can be triggered by emotional trauma and stress, find ways to relieve such stress and trauma. Some steps that you can take can include:

  • Seeking and receiving treatment for other disorders that may trigger Conversion Disorder including depression
  • Maintain a good balance between work, life, family, and school
  • Create positive relationships
  • Have a secure family atmosphere

How do I help myself or someone I know?

  • Support your loved one or seek social support yourself
    • Family, friends, support groups
  • Acknowledge the legitimacy of the symptoms (they are real)
  • Do not blame your loved one or yourself for having such disorder
  • Recognize the symptoms
    • Educate yourself on the subject