by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Conversion disorder is a type of somatoform disorder. People react to stress with problems that appear to start in the brain such as numbness or blindness.
Conversion disorder is caused by a very stressful or traumatic event. It's how someone copes with the event. The reaction comes out as a psychological expression. An example of this is a person who loses their voice because they're afraid to speak.
Conversion disorder is more common in women and teens. Your risk may be higher for:
The symptoms are real. The person who has them is not faking. But, there isn't a medical reason for having them. There may be problems with:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You will have a physical exam to find a cause. You may also have:
In some cases, symptoms will go away on their own. If needed, it can be treated with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps you learn to handle stress. You will change how you think. This will help you gain control of your feelings. You will also find out the cause of the problems you’re having.
You may also need therapy to:
There is no way to prevent conversion disorder since the cause is unknown.
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. Updated January 2018. Accessed August 30, 2018.
Conversion disorder symptoms. Psych Central website. Available at: https://psychcentral.com/disorders/conversion-disorder-symptoms. Updated August 16, 2017. Accessed August 30, 2018.
Functional neurological disorder. NORD—National Organization for Rare Disorders website. Available at: https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/fnd. Accessed August 30, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Adrian Preda, MD
Last Updated: 8/30/2018
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