Conversion Disorder - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Conversion disorder is a medical condition that represents itself with neurological symptoms such as paralysis or blindness, without identification of any underlying cause. 

What causes conversion disorder?

Conversion disorder is believed to be due to some problem with how your brain responds to stress. The exact cause of conversion disorder is unknown. However, it is triggered after emotional events and psychological stressors.

Conversion disorder is classified under somatoform disorders, conditions in which physical symptoms arise due to emotional stressors, and without any identified medical pathology.

Symptoms of conversion disorder:

Conversion disorder may show neurological symptoms such as:

  • Paralysis of a part of the body

  • Blindness

  • Inability to speak

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Tunnel vision

  • Loss of smell

  • Tremors

  • Inability to urinate

  • Double vision

  • Loss of hearing

  • Loss of touch sensations

  • Hallucinations

  • Memory loss

These symptoms tend to show after psychological stress, and there is no history of any physical injury to any part of the body causing these symptoms.

Diagnosis of conversion disorder:

The diagnosis of conversion disorder is usually made by excluding different possible neurological and physical conditions that can cause similar symptoms. A history of symptoms after an episode of mental stress can indicate a diagnosis of conversion disorder.

Conditions similar to conversion disorder:

As mentioned earlier, the exclusion of different diseases can help diagnose conversion disorder. Some conditions may display symptoms similar to conversion disorder such as:

  • Brain tumor

  • Stroke

  • multiple sclerosis

  • Epilepsy

  • Syncope

  • Tremors

  • Toxicity by heavy metals

  • Overuse of medications 

  • Anxiety disorder

  • Psychotic disorders

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  • Drug abuse

  • Feigning of disease

Treatment of conversion disorder:

The treatment of conversion disorder is mostly through psychological therapy. There are no medications currently recommended for treating conversion disorder, but antidepressant drugs may be recommended. Reassuring the patient that there is no neurological problem with them can help them get better. The patients should be told that no one thinks that they are faking the condition. Identifying the history of trauma such as sexual abuse or any other stressful event and helping the patient recover from that emotional trauma through regular psychotherapy can help make the condition better. Along with this, if the patient has coexisting anxiety or depression, it is also treated. Other than this, the following strategies may be used to treat conversion disorder:

  • Occupational therapy

  • Hypnosis

  • Physical therapy

Outlook for conversion disorder:

Conversion disorder is not a disability. Many patients recover completely. Some may recover without any treatment. Appropriate treatment reduces the chances of recurrences of symptoms. Proper stress management and psychotherapy help you come out of this condition and live life just as normally as others. 

Doctors For Conversion Disorder

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