It is also known as functional neurological symptom disorder, a psychological health problem that appears as physical symptoms. Your brain “converts” the impacts of a mental health issue into disturbances of your brain or nervous system, which leads to the occurrence of different symptoms. The symptoms are true, yet they don’t match with any known brain diseases.
Think about, for instance, falling off a horse hard and then being unable to move your legs. Your arm, however, is unharmed. No other area of your body is either yet you are unable to move it. Your body responded to the psychological and emotional pressure of your fall by paralyzing one of your arms. Although it may seem unusual, your symptoms are real and you can’t control them.
Experts include conversion disorder in a wider category of medical conditions called functional neurological symptom disorders. It’s crucial to understand that conversion disorder is a genuine psychological health issue. It’s not merely something someone has imagined or in their thoughts. Even if it’s a mental health issue, the physical symptoms still exist. The symptoms of conversion disorder cannot be controlled by trying or thinking about it.
What are the Symptoms of Conversion Disorders?
Depending on the area of the brain affected, conversion disorder symptoms might vary greatly. Among the most typical signs are:
- Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES). Most often, structural or functional problems or disorders in your brain lead to seizures. Psychological Health Issues can trigger psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.
- Sense-related disruptions. With conversion disorder, there is a chance that the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch will be affected. Examples include the inability to feel things touching your skin, hearing loss or numbness, double or tunnel vision, and hearing loss.
- Pain is a common symptom of conversion disorder, sometimes present alone or in combination with other symptoms.
- Paroxysmal dystonia. unusual tremors, twitches, spasms, and tension in the muscles. All of them occur as a result of a disturbance in the way your brain commands your muscles.
- Weakened or paralyzed muscle
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)
- Fainting or failing (syncope)
- Chronic fatigue or low energy
What causes conversion disorder?
Though the exact cause of conversion disorder is still unknown, experts believe it results from your brain’s attempt to cope with emotional stress. It’s virtually always triggered by distressing circumstances and other psychological disorders. Women are more likely to have it than males. When a person has conversion disorder, common situations include:
- abuse during childhood in the past
- having additional psychological problems, including anxiety or depression
- a recent painful or stressful experience
- a recent health condition or event acting as a trigger for conversion disorder
- having a history of emotional stress or who find it difficult to express their emotions
How is conversion disorder diagnosed?
Conversion disorder cannot be identified by a test. Your physician will initially rule out any further physical, psychological, or neurological reasons for your symptoms. They might ask if you’ve had any stressful situations recently.
The following are required for a diagnosis of conversion disorder:
- You have no control over them, and they influence your senses or movement
- Your symptoms cannot be explained by any other factor, such as a different medical condition or mental health problem
- You have one or more symptoms that are connected to how your brain regulates your senses or movement.
- Your symptoms don’t match any known or recognized medical diseases
- Your life is disrupted by the symptoms or problems, particularly your work potential, relationships, etc.
- You are not making them
What tests will be performed to identify this condition?
The recommended tests are heavily influenced by the symptoms you are experiencing. In general, neurological tests and diagnostic imaging are most likely. These consist of:
- Blood tests
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan
- Electroencephalogram (EEG)
- Evoked potentials test
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
How is conversion disorder treated?
The first approach is often psychotherapy. It’s also typically the best strategy. The most typical forms of psychotherapy consist of:
The most frequently suggested form of therapy is this one.
When conversion disorder symptoms interfere with your ability to communicate or use any of your senses, this approach could be extremely beneficial.
Group or family therapy
People with this disease can connect with others going through comparable hardships through group therapy.
Other treatments that may help include:
Although the physical consequences of conversion disorder may not be immediately apparent, they still exist. People with conversion disorder may recover from or learn to cope with physical symptoms with the use of physical therapy.
Medication for such disorders can assist with conversion disorder symptoms when they co-occur with other conditions like depression or anxiety.
An alternative medical strategy called biofeedback instructs patients on how to change the way their bodies work. Your physical and emotional health may be improved by this mind-body treatment.