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Conversion Disorder Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms

It is important to understand that the symptoms of conversion disorder are involuntary, that is, the person does not consciously act out, or pretend that they have the symptoms. A hallmark of these symptoms is their lack of connection to any known organic medical diagnoses. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Impaired coordination and balance
  • Paralysis of an arm or leg
  • Loss of sensation in a part of the body
  • Loss of a sense, such as blindness or deafness
  • Difficulty swallowing or a sensation of a lump in the throat
  • Sensory symptoms, such as;
    • Loss of sense of pain
    • Tingling or crawling sensations

Nervous System

Nervous system posterior 3D
An emotional event may trigger physical symptoms, sometimes through peripheral nerves (yellow).
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

To be diagnosed with conversion disorder you must have at least one symptom, but you may also have many. The appearance of symptoms is linked to the stressful event, and typically occur suddenly (eg, seeing something extremely unpleasant and suddenly going blind). If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume it is due to conversion disorder. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If you experience any one of them, see your physician.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of conversion disorder may be difficult initially because physical symptoms are most often caused by a physical disorder. It is important for the physician to consider a physical cause for the symptoms carefully. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a complete physical exam. Patients will often be asked to undergo the following testing to rule out an underlying disease.

  • Laboratory testing to rule out hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, kidney failure , or drug-related causes
  • Imaging studies, such as chest x-rays or CT scans
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG, EKG) —a test that records heart activity by measuring electrical currents through the heart muscle
  • Spinal fluid examination to check for neurological causes

If no physical cause is detected, the patient may either be referred to a neurologist or for a psychiatric consultation.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2019 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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