Conversion disorder is a situation where psychological stress (like depression) is manifested in a physical way. Conversion disorder frequently develops after an intensely stressful event. The physical features of conversion disorder may have no underlying cause and one has no control over the symptoms. In most cases, conversion disorder will present with an inability walk or use the arms, have difficulty hearing or seeing, or one may not be able to speak. In rare cases, one can even have seizures, hallucinations, inability to feel pain and inability to urinate. The symptoms may be very dramatic but in the majority there is rapid improvement in several days or weeks.
The exact cause of conversion disorder is unknown but it is believed that the area of brain responsible for muscle control somehow is now controlled by emotions. It is believed that this is one way in which the brain reacts to an apparent menace.
Risk factors include:
Being female, especially 20-30 years of age
Recent emotional trauma or stress
Already having a diagnosis of generalized anxiety, major depression or having certain personality types
Having a close family member with conversion disorder
History of physical or sexual trauma
In most patients, simple reassurance will help improve the disorder but at least 25 percent of individuals develop recurrent symptoms. Individuals who develop recurrence because of failure to seek treatment, have an underlying serious mental health disorder or have tremors/seizures not related to seizures. There are reports that some patients who have a neurological disorder can also develop a conversion disorder.
There are certain criteria that one must meet to be diagnosed with a conversion syndrome.
1--Your symptoms are out of your control and may mimic another medical disorder.
2--The symptoms must be recent and follow a stressful event
3--You did not deliberately cause the symptoms.
4--Your symptoms cannot be explained by drug use, any organic lesion or cultural behavior.
5--Symptoms must induce intense impairment in your social life, work or other environments.