The conversion disorder is when you show psychological stress in physical ways. Usually conversion disorders appear suddenly after a very stressful event. Conversion disorder signs and symptoms occur with no specific underlying physical cause and it is impossible for you to control them.
Signs and symptoms of conversion disorder typically affect your movement or your senses. For example, it may affect your ability to walk, swallow, see, or hear. These symptoms can be severe, however, for most people they recover within a few weeks.
- Inability to speak
- Gait disturbance
- Intractable pain
- Tunnel vision and blindness
- Incapacitating headache
- Unremitting fatigue
Usually the symptoms of conversion disorder occur because of emotional distress or psychological problems. Most often, symptoms begin right after a sudden stressful experience.
Also, people are more likely to have this disorder if they previously also had a medical illness, dissociative disorder, or personality disorder.2
Rigid obsessional personality trait
Anxiety state or depression
Previous sexual abuse
Feelings of parental rejection
Poor intrafamilial communication
Unhappiness at school3
- Stress management training
- (Affected body part) Physical/Occupational therapy
- Medication: Sedative or antianxiety agent2
- Counseling (psychotherapy): Seeing a psychologist can help treat the symptoms of conversion disorder and may prevent it from returning.
- Physical therapy: A person diagnosed as conversion disorder would work with a physical therapist to prevent complications of certain symptoms.
- Hypnosis: With a trained expert, hypnosis may help a person identify and resolve psychological issues. This is usually done along with another form of psychotherapy in treating conversion disorder.
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation: Some reports show that people with this disorder might benefit from this treatment which involves exciting brain activity by using weak electrical currents. This is believed to change the brain's biochemistry and can improve symptoms of various mental disorders.4
A 12 year old boy was referred for investigation of gait disorder. He had a five-month history of nausea, weakness, inverted sleeping patterns and inability to extend his right elbow. He did not attend school since the beginning of his illness and undergone extensive investigation at a district general hospital.
He usually walked with a weird staggering gait which on close inspection could be seen to be carefully coordinated. His right elbow was unmoveable by sustained palpable contraction of both biceps and triceps muscles. A diagnosis of conversion disorder was made and the kid's background information was explored.
A little before the beginning of his illness, he had moved with his peers to a secondary school with high expectations. He was not able to reache these expectations and was made fun of by his peers because he rejected class work and threw workbooks on the floor. Transfer to another school was unacceptable as well because he did not want to be separated from his friends. Psychotherapy was instituted with gradual improvement.
Nonetheless, ten months elapsed before he was confident and well enough to return to school.
- Dissociative Disorder
- Personality Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Histrionic Personality Disorder
- Dependent personality Disorder