Conversion Disorder Or Functional Neurological Disorder
It leads to varied clinical symptoms of multiple organ systems. Symptoms are real and cause clinically significant distress or impairment in functioning.
Signs and symptoms vary, typically it affects the patient’s movement and senses, such as handgrip, ability to walk, balancing, swallow, vision, or hearing. Symptoms may vary in severity and may fluctuate or be persistent. The patient doesn’t produce or control symptoms intentionally.
The exact cause of conversion disorder is not known. The conversion disorder may be triggered by stress, either psychological trauma or physical trauma, but stress is not present in all cases of conversion disorder.
Early Psychiatric doctors help to diagnose and treat, especially the psychological education of the patient and Caregivers about the condition, helps in recovery.
Signs and symptoms that affect body movement and function may include:
– The weakness of muscle or paralysis like weakness
– Clinching of teeth or muscles of hands
– Abnormal movement, such as tremors or difficulty in walking
– Difficulty in balance making
– Difficulty in swallowing or feeling “a lump in the throat”
– Episodes of Seizures or fits or unconsciousness
– Episodes of unresponsiveness
– Loss of identity. A person may assume a new identity.
– Episodes of possession by a spirit.
Symptoms that affect the senses may include:
– Numbness or loss of the touch sensation
– Speech problems: inability to speak or slurred speech or irrelevant talks
– Vision problems: double vision or blindness or partial vision loss
– Hearing problems or deafness
– The patient may present with memory loss or amnesia
When to see a psychiatrist
Seek a psychiatrist for the signs and symptoms listed above.
The exact cause of conversion disorder is unknown. It seems that conversion disorder is a result of complex and multiple mechanisms.
Symptoms of conversion disorder may appear suddenly after a stressful event (mental or physical stress).
– Risk factors
– Preexisting neurological problems like epilepsy
– Recent stressful event: emotional or physical trauma
– Preexisting mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety disorder, personality disorders
– Having a family member or a known person with a conversion disorder
Gender: Women seem to be more likely than men to develop conversion disorder.
If conversion disorder is not treated timely it can cause substantial disability and poor quality of life. It causes stress for caregivers and financial loss to the family. Acute conversion disorder should be treated promptly otherwise it can become chronic conversion disorder.
Dr.Kapil Sharma, Jaipur