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Conversion Disorder Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

What Is Conversion Disorder?

Conversion disorder is a diagnostic category used in some psychiatric classification systems.

It is sometimes applied to patients who present with neurological symptoms, such as:

  • numbness
  • blindness
  • paralysis
  • fits

These symptoms are not consistent with a well-established organic cause, and cause significant distress.

It is thought that these symptoms arise in response to stressful situations affecting a patient’s mental health.

Conversion disorder is considered a psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fifth edition (DSM-5).

Conversion disorder symptoms can vary in severity and may come and go or be persistent. The outcome may be better in younger children than in teenagers and adults.

Causes Of Conversion Disorder:

The underlying cause of conversion disorder is yet unknown.

However, different theories have been proposed.

  • According to the Freudian model, the emotional aspect of painful experiences is converted into neurological symptoms.
  • Conversion disorders are linked with the occurrence of a psychological conflict or stressor. In some cases, the onset of the disorder correlates to a traumatic or stressful event.
  • According to some theorists, the occurrence of neurological symptoms is the defense mechanism for the brain in face of threatening situations.

Risk factors for conversion disorder may include:

  • Recent significant stress or emotional trauma
  • Being female
  • Women are much more likely to develop conversion disorder
  • Having a mental health condition
  • Mood disorders
  • anxiety disorders
  • dissociative disorder
  • personality disorders
  • Having a neurological disease that causes similar symptoms, such as epilepsy
  • Having a family member with conversion disorder
  • A history of physical or sexual abuse and neglect in childhood

Symptoms Of Conversion Disorder:

Conversion disorder begins with some stressor, trauma, or psychological distress. Usually the physical symptoms of the syndrome affect the senses or movement.

Common symptoms include:

  • Physical symptoms
  • Blindness
  • partial or total paralysis
  • inability to speak
  • Deafness
  • Numbness
  • Sores
  • difficulty swallowing
  • incontinence
  • balance problems
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Motor symptoms
  • Impaired coordination or balance
  • Weakness/paralysis of a limb or the entire body (hysterical paralysis or motor conversion disorders)
  • Impairment or loss of speech (hysterical aphonia)
  • Difficulty swallowing or a sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Urinary retention
  • Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures or convulsions
  • Persistent dystonia
  • Tremor, myoclonus or other movement disorders
  • Gait problems
  • Loss of consciousness (fainting)
  • Sensory symptoms
  • Impaired vision (hysterical blindness), double vision
  • Impaired hearing (deafness)
  • Loss or disturbance of touch or pain sensation

Diagnosis Of Conversion Disorder:

In order to be diagnosed with conversion disorder, one should fulfill the criteria as mentioned by the DSM.

Moreover, the following tests may be done to rule out physical causes of the symptoms:

  • Sample tests
  • X-rays
  • EEG scan

Treatment Of Conversion Disorder:

The following treatment options are available:

  • Counseling (psychotherapy)
  • Physical therapy
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

By : Natural Health News

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