February 8, 2010

Treatment for Conversion Disorder

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Conversion disorder is a condition for which no medical explanation has been found. It is expressed when neurological symptoms like paralysis, fits, or numbness are present in patients. It is considered to be a psychiatric disorder. Earlier it was known as “hysteria” and was studied in depth by neurologists and psychologists such as Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Janet, and Sigmund Freud. The term ‘conversion disorder’ was used by Freud who expressed that anxiety or intra-psychic disorder is ‘converted’ into physical symptoms. The distress causes the brain to unconsciously disable or mess up a bodily function, which may relieve the patient’s anxiety. It is also found that patients may suffer from the distress in the long term with the symptoms affecting them.

Conversion disorder can present itself in motor or sensory symptoms which can include weakness or paralysis of the limb or the whole body, hearing or vision can get impaired, loss or disturbance in sensation, loss or impairment of speech, fixed dystonia, tremors, gait problems, and fainting. The somatoform disorders have persistent psychical symptoms for which medical reasons cannot be really explained and could arise from psychological conflicts or issues.

The treatment for conversion disorder needs to be based on a clear and coherent explanation which attributes physical symptoms to neurological causes. The patient needs to be studied to help confirm the reasons, and the diagnosis understood. Physiotherapy should be done where necessary and depression and anxiety should be treated, if present. In spite of extensive studies there is very little evidence-based treatment for conversion disorder. The other treatments involve hypnosis, cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic psychotherapy. However, much is yet to be done.

Remedies for Conversion Disorder: The treatment for conversion disorder chiefly depends on the specific diagnosis. Complementary or natural home remedies can be included with a healthy diet, exercise and stress free life style. As it involves psychological reasons like stress and anxiety which trigger the physical symptoms, it is essential to deal with emotional issues by consulting a good psychologist or a trusted friend. This helps in preventing physical symptoms from surfacing and goes a long way in keeping oneself free from the clutches of this disorder.

In case the physical symptoms appear, try not to concentrate too much on them. Instead divert your attention by taking a walk, listening to music, or doing some other activity. Following a regular, healthy diet coupled with exercise and sufficient rest will help relieve the problem. You should research and learn as much as you can about your condition to get a clear picture and this will help you face the condition head on. Find and do things which will give you an identity and purpose, like a sport or hobby, which will help you focus on other things than on yourself.

Herbal and natural products like passion flower, lavender, dry dates, licorice, asafetida, wheat grain, honey, fruits, and lettuce can help in relieving conversion disorder.