Health Resources

Conversion and Dissociative Disorders

What are Conversion and Dissociative Disorders

Conversion disorder, also known as functional neurological symptom disorder, is a mental condition in which an individual experiences neurological or physical symptom that cannot be explained by neurological or medical causes. There is usually an underlying psychological cause to the physical symptoms. These symptoms often cause impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning in one’s life.

Dissociative disorders are conditions that involve involuntary escape from reality and are often associated with disruptions/ breakdowns of memory, awareness, identity, or perception.

There are different types of dissociative disorders, including:

  • Dissociative identity disorder – Disruption of identity, resulting in two or more distinct personality states.
  • Dissociative amnesia – An inability to recall important autobiographical information, usually of a traumatic nature
  • Depersonalisation/Derealisation disorder – Experiences of unreality and detachment with respect to one’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, body, or actions (depersonalisation) or surroundings (derealisation).

Symptoms of conversion disorder include:

  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Abnormal physical movement
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Speech difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Sensory loss or disturbances

In general, symptoms of dissociative disorders include:

  • Significant memory loss of specific times, people, and events (dissociative amnesia)
  • Out-of-body experiences
  • A sense of detachment from one’s emotions (depersonalisation/ derealisation disorder)
  • A lack of sense of self-identity
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy to develop skills to better manage stressful situations and symptoms
  • Stress reduction and distraction techniques
  • Physiotherapy or occupational therapy to help to improve one’s ability to function (for conversion disorder)
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