Conversion Disorder Symptoms: Understanding the Condition

Conversion disorder, also known as functional neurological disorder or psychogenic movement disorder, is a condition that affects a person’s physical abilities and functions. It is a type of somatic symptom disorder where individuals experience physical symptoms that are not the result of any known medical condition or injury.

The cause of conversion disorder is unclear, and it is considered a psychiatric disorder. It is believed that mental or emotional stress can trigger the condition. In some cases, it may be related to a past traumatic event or history of abuse. This article will explore the symptoms of conversion disorder and their impact on daily life.

Physical Symptoms

Conversion disorder symptoms can vary greatly depending on the individual. They can range from mild to severe and can occur suddenly or gradually. The physical symptoms may appear to be similar to those of a medical condition, but they do not have a clear medical explanation.

Some common physical symptoms of conversion disorder include:

  • Paralysis or weakness in limbs or muscles
  • Tremors or seizure-like movements
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • Inability to walk or stand
  • Numbness or loss of sensation in certain body parts
  • Blindness or other vision problems

These physical symptoms can be distressing, and they can interfere with daily activities such as work, school, or socializing.

Psychological Symptoms

Conversion disorder can also cause psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and stress. These symptoms often occur as a result of the physical symptoms and the frustration and confusion they cause.

Individuals with conversion disorder may also experience other mental health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder, or depression. These conditions can make the physical symptoms worse and can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions.


Diagnosing conversion disorder can be challenging because the symptoms can mimic those of a medical condition. The diagnosis is usually made based on the absence of any clear medical explanation for the symptoms.

Medical professionals will perform a physical examination and a series of tests to rule out any medical conditions that may be causing the physical symptoms. They may also perform psychological evaluations to assess the individual’s mental health and determine if there are any underlying psychological factors that may be contributing to the symptoms.


Treatment for conversion disorder typically involves a combination of physical and psychological therapies. The aim of the therapy is to help the individual manage their symptoms, improve their ability to function, and reduce their psychological distress.

Physical therapy may involve exercises and activities that help the individual regain their physical abilities and improve their mobility. Psychological therapy may include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), therapy aimed at addressing any underlying psychological factors, and stress management techniques.

In some cases, medication may be used to treat any underlying mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. However, medication is not usually used to treat the physical symptoms of conversion disorder.

Living with Conversion Disorder

Living with conversion disorder can be challenging, particularly if the symptoms are severe or disabling. The physical symptoms can be frustrating, and they can make it difficult to perform daily activities. Additionally, the psychological distress caused by the condition can make it difficult for individuals to maintain their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Support from family, friends, or a mental health professional can be beneficial in managing conversion disorder symptoms. Support groups can also be helpful for individuals to connect with others who share their experiences and provide a sense of community.


Conversion disorder is a condition that can significantly impact an individual’s physical and emotional wellbeing. While there is no clear cause of the condition, it is believed that psychological factors such as stress can trigger the symptoms. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help manage the symptoms, improve an individual’s ability to function, and reduce their psychological distress.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may be experiencing conversion disorder symptoms, it is important to seek medical and psychological help. With proper care and support, individuals living with conversion disorder can manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.


What are common symptoms of Conversion Disorder?

Conversion Disorder symptoms can vary greatly depending on the individual. However, some common signs include paralysis or weakness in limbs, seizures, blindness, mutism, and difficulty swallowing. These symptoms can often appear suddenly and without any apparent physical cause.

What causes Conversion Disorder?

The exact cause of Conversion Disorder is unknown, but it is believed to be related to psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, trauma, or repressed emotions. It is also more commonly found in women than men and often develops in adolescence or early adulthood.

How is Conversion Disorder treated?

Treatment for Conversion Disorder focuses on addressing the underlying psychological factors contributing to the symptoms. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavior therapy are often recommended to help individuals identify and manage stressors or trauma. Medication may also be prescribed for associated conditions such as depression or anxiety. In some cases, physical therapy or occupational therapy may be beneficial to help manage symptoms such as weakness or paralysis.


1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

2. Stone, J., Smyth, R., Carson, A., Lewis, S., Prescott, R., & Warlow, C. (2005). Systematic review of misdiagnosis of conversion symptoms and “hysteria”. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 331(7523), 989–991.

3. Hallett, M. (2007). Neurophysiology of conversion disorder: An update. Neuroscience Letters, 427(2), 77–81.