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Conversion Disorder

Conversion Disorder, also known as functional neurological symptom disorder, is a condition in which a person experiences physical symptoms, such as weakness, tremors, or seizures, that cannot be explained by a medical condition.

Conversion Disorder

What is the definition for Conversion Disorder?

Conversion disorder, also known as functional neurological symptom disorder, is a condition in which a person experiences physical symptoms, such as weakness, tremors, or seizures, that cannot be explained by a medical condition. The symptoms are thought to be related to psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, or emotional conflict.

Who does Conversion Disorder affect?

Conversion disorder can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities. However, it is more commonly diagnosed in adolescents and young adults, and in women more than men. The prevalence of conversion disorder is estimated to be around 5-15 cases per 100,000 people (about the seating capacity of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum) in the general population. People with a history of trauma or stress, such as physical or sexual abuse, are at increased risk of developing conversion disorder.

What are the symptoms of Conversion disorder?

The symptoms of conversion disorder can vary widely from person to person, but they typically involve a change or loss of physical function that cannot be explained by a medical condition. These symptoms may include:

  • Weakness or paralysis in a limb or the entire body

  • Tremors or shaking

  • Abnormal movements or postures

  • Loss of sensation, such as numbness or blindness

  • Seizures or convulsions

  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking

  • Unresponsiveness or loss of consciousness

The symptoms may come and go and may be triggered or worsened by stress or emotional conflicts. It's important to note that these symptoms are not intentionally fabricated or feigned, but are experienced as real by the individual with conversion disorder.

What are the diagnosis criteria for Conversion disorder?

The diagnostic criteria for conversion disorder according to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition) include the following:

  • One or more symptoms of altered voluntary motor or sensory function.

  • Clinical findings supply evidence of incompatibility between the symptoms and recognized neurological or medical conditions.

  • The symptom or deficit is not better explained by another medical or mental disorder.

  • The symptom or deficit causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other key areas of functioning or calls for medical evaluation.

In addition to these criteria, the diagnosis of conversion disorder also requires that the symptoms are not intentionally produced or feigned and that they are not better explained by a different mental disorder, such as somatic symptom disorder, factitious disorder, or malingering. A thorough medical evaluation is necessary to rule out any underlying medical or neurological conditions that could explain the symptoms.

What are strategies and treatments for overcoming Conversion disorder?

The treatment of conversion disorder typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and physical rehabilitation. The specific approach will depend on the individual's symptoms and their underlying psychological and social factors. Here are some strategies and treatments that may be helpful:

  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy can help the person address underlying psychological factors that may be contributing to their symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, or other forms of psychotherapy may be used.

  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy can help the person regain lost physical function and improve mobility, strength, and coordination.

  • Medications: Antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or antipsychotic medications may be prescribed to help manage any underlying mental health conditions that may be contributing to the symptoms.

  • Hypnosis or relaxation techniques: Hypnosis or relaxation techniques may be used to help the person manage stress, reduce anxiety, and relieve symptoms.

  • Education and support: Education about the condition and support from family, friends, and mental health professionals can be important in managing symptoms and promoting recovery.

  • Addressing any underlying stressors or trauma: Addressing any underlying stressors or trauma through therapy or other means may be helpful in managing symptoms and preventing recurrence.

It's important to note that conversion disorder is a complex condition, and recovery can take time and effort. Working with a mental health professional who specializes in the treatment of conversion disorder can be beneficial.

This content is provided for informational and entertainment value only. It is not a replacement for a trained professional's diagnosis or for the treatment of any illness. If you feel like you are struggling with this condition, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. With the right treatment and support, individuals with this condition can learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. BetterPsych provides full psychological services via telehealth and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on our services. For more information and to find a therapist specializing in this disorder, please call (833) 496-5011, or visit

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