Also known as Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder, Conversion disorder is a psychological problem arising from the nervous system. In this condition, patients experience blindness, paralysis, speech impairment, tremors without the presence of any physical injury to the body or any organic causes. It’s a very rare condition; only two to five people in every 100,000 people get it every year. It is recognized by the DSM 5 as a type of somatic symptom disorder.
The onset of symptoms is rather sudden. It may suddenly manifest without any previous physiological causes. Voluntary motor functions are affected due to this disorder. Any pent-up emotional trauma or stress may trigger this. It is your body’s way of distracting your mind from the mental trauma and making it focus on the physical discomfort. The symptoms may include:
- Involuntary movement of limbs/ movement without control.
- Tunnel vision/loss of vision
- Hearing problems
- Loss of touch
- Loss of voice
- Loss of sense of smell
- Convulsions or seizures
- Loss of ability of speech
- Slurred speech
- Feeling of a “lump” in the throat without actually it being the case.
Diagnosis for this disorder is done according to the specific criteria laid out in the DSM-5. The criterion is as follows:
- There must not be any bodily disease behind the symptoms. Also, they should not be caused by any neurological disorder or substance use.
- The symptoms must include loss of at least one sensory or motor function.
- The symptoms must be without any physical or psychological cause.
- The person experiencing these symptoms must be under considerable distress.
The exact reason for this disorder isn’t definitely known, but it usually occurs from a neurological problem. The functioning of the brain and nerves deteriorate for some reason, and as a result, there is a hindrance in sending and receiving signals which causes the abovementioned symptoms. Since all sensory and motor functions are controlled by the brain, they all are affected due to this disorder. It can also be a reaction to a very stressful or emotionally traumatic experience. People with a history of being neglected as a child or victims of physical and sexual abuse are likely to develop this condition.
Women too are susceptible to conversion disorder, especially if any first-degree female member of the family too has it making it generational to an extent. People who work too hard to a fault, control freaks, and who micromanage everything and compulsive perfectionists may also develop this disorder because such people experience stress on a daily basis.
Since a possible cause of this disease is underlying mental trauma, consulting with a therapist might help patients to address the root cause of the problem. CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often prescribed for cases such as this.
After diagnosis, the patient is most likely to be prescribed anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication. These medications help ease the mental turmoil.
- Non-Medical Ways
Such as living with a rigorous routine and taking care of one’s body and mind. A balanced diet, exercise, ample sleep can sometimes help reduce anxiety. However, this shouldn’t be the sole treatment plan. A professional diagnosis and treatment are mandatory.