by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Conversion disorder is when stress causes problems with the nervous system.
The exact cause is not clear. It often happens after a stressful or traumatic event. It is thought that the event causes mental tension that results in problems with the nervous system. An example of this is a person who loses their voice because they are afraid to speak.
This problem often starts in children aged 10 to 15 years. It may also start in older adults with severe health problems.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
Symptoms vary. A person may have problems with:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
These tests may also be done:
This problem may go away on its own in some people.
Others may need therapy. One method is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It helps people learn to cope with stress.
Physical therapy may also be needed to build muscle strength and relearn daily tasks.
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
American Psychiatric Association
National Institute of Mental Health
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Conversion disorder. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric-disorders/somatic-symptom-and-related-disorders/conversion-disorder. Accessed November 17, 2020.
Conversion disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/conversion-disorder. Accessed November 17, 2020.
Feinstein A. Conversion Disorder. Continuum (Minneap Minn). 2018 Jun;24(3, BEHAVIORAL NEUROLOGY AND PSYCHIATRY):861-872.
Functional neurological disorder. NORD—National Organization for Rare Disorders website. Available at: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/fnd. Accessed November 17, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 4/14/2021