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Conversion Disorder: Treatments and Drugs

Conversion disorder is a psychiatric condition in which emotional distress or unconscious conflict are expressed through physical symptoms.


Causes

The cause of conversion disorder is unknown, although researchers are examining abnormalities in brain circuitry — especially those that govern motor and sensory skills — as a possible explanation.

Most clinicians view conversion disorder as a psychological defense, or a response to an internal or external threat. Episodes of conversion disorder are nearly always triggered by severe stress, an emotional conflict or an associated mental health disorder such as depression.

Once referred to as hysteria, conversion disorder gets its name from the notion that someone with the condition is converting a psychological conflict into an inability to move parts of the body or use the senses normally. Psychiatrists recognize conversion disorder as a potentially serious mental condition that is not under a person's voluntary control.

Symptoms   

Symptoms of a conversion disorder include the loss of one or more bodily functions, such as:

•    Blindness
•    Inability to speak
•    Numbness
•    Paralysis

Diagnostic testing does not find any physical cause for the symptoms.

Treatment   

Psychotherapy and stress management training may help reduce symptoms. The affected body part or physical function will need physical or occupational therapy until the symptoms disappear. For exampleFree Web Content, paralyzed limbs must be exercised to prevent muscle wasting.


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