What is Conversion Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Sometimes, people experience physical symptoms of paralysis or blindness temporarily without any physical cause or explanation. Today, we’ll discuss what is conversion disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Conversion Disorder? 

Conversion disorder is a very broad and wide term when emotional and mental distress causes physical signs without the prevalence of the physical condition. It is the physical reaction of our body to physical, mental, and psychological trauma. However, it also goes by the name of functional neurological disorder.

People with conversion disorders don’t have control over the physical reactions of their bodies. Usually, the responses comprise either motor control or your senses. Some of the reactions and experiences are paralysis of arms or legs, body response with tremors, stressful and traumatic events, and other similar conditions. You won’t find any underlying physical condition like an injury that would cause paralysis or tremors. Instead, the emotional trauma and stress would cause the development of the physical condition.

Symptoms of Conversion Disorder 

The symptoms of conversion disorder (CD) are different for different people and they vary in severity. They would occur repetitively with the recall of stressors or happen at once without recalling of stressors. Some of the main symptoms are as follows;

  • Total or partial hearing loss
  • Incapability to speak or slurred speech
  • Difficulty in swallowing and it makes you feel like there is a bump in your throat
  • Double vision, blindness, and other vision problems
  • Numbness or weakness in your legs and arms
  • Balancing problems
  • Paralysis in your legs or arms
  • Tremors with lower consciousness

Usually, the signs of CD begin abruptly during the time of the traumatic or stressful situation. Often, the symptoms would stop exhibiting abruptly.

Causes of Conversion Disorder 

Usually, depression, emotional trauma, and extreme stress cause the development of conversion disorder. It is the response of your body towards something that you perceive as a threat. However, the physical symptoms abovementioned would appear as a way to relieve or resolve whatever is causing the high mental stress.

For instance, soldiers and policemen experience mental and emotional trauma over the thought of shooting or possibly killing someone, and it causes paralysis in their hands. The physical symptoms appear as a way to avoid and ignore whatever is causing the stress.


The symptoms of CD are very distressing and they greatly influence the well-being of a person. They would restrict the daily routine activities of a person. However, some symptoms like temporary paralysis and seizure would amplify the risk of making the person disable permanently.

A person with CD condition would face issues in the relationship and the workplace; they would live a lower quality of life. It is for them to receive a quick diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosis of Conversion Disorder 

The diagnosis of conversion disorder comprises meeting the criteria offered by DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorder). Some of the main elements of the CD are as follows;

  • The symptoms are badly impacting your daily routine life
  • No other medical or physical condition is explaining the symptoms
  • Symptoms would occur relevant to the emotionally traumatic and stressful event
  • Can’t control the sensory symptoms and the movement in your body

The CD condition doesn’t have any specific tests for its diagnosis. Your doctor would recommend tests in order to rule out other medical conditions that are causing the symptoms to exhibit. The tests doctors usually suggest are different for different people depending on their symptoms. Some of the tests are as follows;

  • Checking reflexes or blood pressure
  • Electroencephalogram for the signs of seizure to eliminate neurological conditions
  • X-rays and CT scans to eliminate neurological conditions and possible injuries

The symptoms of CD are the same as the other types of medical conditions. Therefore, it is significant for your doctor to rule out other possible conditions and correctly diagnose the conversion disorders.

Treatment of Conversion Disorder 

A person exhibiting the symptoms of conversion disorder should reach out to the doctor. Perhaps, the symptoms are occurring due to a medical condition. The first thing your doctors would do is diagnose the main underlying cause of the symptoms.

After diagnosing the exact cause of the problem; you can work on finding the solution and develop the coping mechanism by relieving the emotional trauma and the stress as much as you can. If somehow you manage to stop the trigger points, then you can decrease the physical symptoms to a great extent.

The treatment plan for conversion disorders comprises of following strategies;

  • Getting support from the community, friends, and family members
  • Maintaining a life balance and healthy work life
  • Physical therapy
  • Practicing yoga, meditation, and other mental relaxation techniques
  • The psychotherapy
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
  • Addressing underlying mental illnesses like depression or anxiety

Conclusion: What is Conversion Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is conversion disorder; its symptoms, causes, complications, diagnosis, and treatment; we have realized that CD could badly disturb your daily life. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the doctor as soon as you can.