All You Need To Know About Conversion Disorder (Functional Neurological Disorder)

Last Update on September 18, 2023 : Published on September 18, 2023

Do you know that conversion disorder is a rare mental illness with only 0.2-0.5% prevalence per year? Conversion disorder is a rare psychological condition that is also known as functional neurological symptom disorder. This disorder can cause speech impairment, tremors, and even paralysis. In this blog, let us take a deep look at conversion disorder, and let’s find out how we can seek proper treatment for this rare type of mental illness.

Quick Fact-Check: Conversion disorder is likely to create disturbances in your brain which can be seen through physical symptoms. People struggling with conversion disorder usually show no activity or less activity due to improper brain functioning.

What is Conversion Disorder?

Conversion disorder also known as functional neurological disorder is a rare mental health condition with physical symptoms such as paralysis, speech impairment, and more. This disorder is developed when our brain converts the effects of mental health issues into disruptions in our nervous system. The symptoms do not stand for brain-related conditions, but they are recognized under the “Diagnostic and Statistical Mental Health Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5). Research shows that nobody can fake this condition because it causes physical health symptoms which can be a real thing.

Quick Fact-Check: Conversion disorder affects people throughout their lifespan. Symptoms of conversion disorder are more age-related. For example, seizures are commonly seen between the age of 20-29, and movement-related symptoms are more commonly seen between the age of 30-39.

Symptoms of Conversion Disorder

The onset of conversion disorder can be seen by voluntary motor functioning or sensory functioning. Research shows that the symptoms of conversion disorder are the result of the way of dealing with unexpressed emotions or unresolved stress which triggers the disorder even worse. Typically, conversion disorder affects movements, functioning, and senses as well. Below are some of the common symptoms of conversion disorder:

  • Abnormal walking
  • Coordination impairment
  • Convulsions
  • Double vision or blindness
  • Impaired speech
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Loss of touch
  • Loss of voice
  • Numbness of loss of touch
  • Paralysis
  • Problems hearing
  • Seizures
  • Temporary blindness or double vision
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Tremors
  • Unresponsiveness

Causes of Conversion Disorder

Due to less prevalence, I was not able to find exact research or causes behind the development of conversion disorder. Since conversion disorder is caused by abnormal flows in the brain, I could find some studies that show a connection between trauma, stress, and conversion disorder. Below are some of the common causes behind the development of conversion disorder according to the studies and research:

  • Childhood abuse
  • The presence of other mental health issues such as anxiety, stress, or depression
  • Traumatic event
  • Recent stressful events acting as a trigger for conversion disorder

Risk Factors of Conversion Disorder

Below are some of the common risk factors of conversion disorder:

  • Women are at higher risk of developing conversion disorder
  • Compulsiveness, hard-working personality, perfectionism, and high level of conscientious can also cause this disorder
  • Having family members or genetics can also cause this disorder
  • Maladaptive personality traits can also cause this disorder

Diagnosis of Conversion Disorder

If you think you or your loved one might be struggling with conversion disorder, you must connect with a health care provider for proper diagnosis and the presence of other mental health or physical health conditions such as stroke, lupus, multiple sclerosis, periodic paralysis, and more.

In order to be diagnosed with conversion disorder you must have:

  • One or more symptoms related to the brain’s control, movement, or senses
  • Symptoms must not match with other recognized conditions
  • Symptoms must be unexplainable, they must not collide with a mental health issue
  • The symptoms must be disrupting your overall quality of life

Quick Fact-Check: In order to be diagnosed with conversion disorder, your symptoms must be inconsistent with a recognized medical condition.

Treatment of Conversion Disorder

Psychotherapy is usually a front-line approach to treat conversion disorder, due to the presence of physical symptoms, physical therapy, biofeedback, and medications are also prescribed. Below are some of the common treatment methods followed after diagnosing conversion disorder:


1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most commonly used therapies that helps replace negative thoughts with positive ones. It also helps in recognizing triggers and teaches healthy coping ways.


Hypnotherapy helps in recognizing symptoms and working on your senses.

3.Group or Family Therapy

Group therapy or family therapy helps in understanding symptoms on the basis of other’s experiences and also helps in seeking support.

Other Treatments


Biofeedback is an alternative therapy that helps in proper body functioning and improving overall well-being.

5.Physical Therapy

Physical therapy helps in recovering from the physical symptoms.


Medication is prescribed to treat specific symptoms such as anxiety, stress, or depression-related symptoms.

Tips to Cope with Conversion Disorder

Here’s how you can cope with conversion disorder along with therapy:

  • Try relaxation techniques
  • Do not miss sessions and participate in therapy sessions
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Maintain a healthy sleeping and eating routine
  • Seek support from your loved ones and foster such relationships
  • Try yoga or meditation for instant calming

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the common symptoms of conversion disorder?

Some of the common symptoms of conversion disorder are sense-related disruptions, and troubles with senses such as smell, taste, vision, and touch. Additionally, hearing loss, numbness, or tunnel vision are possible symptoms of conversion disorder.

Q. Do you need treatment for conversion disorder?

If you or your loved one are recently diagnosed with conversion disorder, know that treatment is required to treat or manage some chronic symptoms. Additionally, treatment is always a better idea for a better future and improvement of overall well-being.

Q. Are people with conversion disorder faking their illness?

Conversion disorder can never be faked, it’s a rare type of psychiatric condition that can be really traumatic or stressful. Therefore, if your loved one is showing symptoms related to conversion disorder, please connect with a health provider ASAP.

Q. Can conversion cause paralysis?

Conversion disorder can cause paralysis as it can cause problems with the nervous system such as the spinal cord, brain, and other nerves).

I hope this blog helps you understand conversion disorder and its treatment. For more such content, connect with us through all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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