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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Understanding Conversion Disorder

05/18/2006

Question:

Hi, I am 24 years old and have been sick for over a year. I have a 2 year old son. One year ago I collapsed without warning, became paralyzed for half and hour and was rushed to hospital only to find one thing wrong on all my blood tests (an ESR of 57, CRP of 10). Since that day I have not recovered. I am exhausted all the time, I don't sleep, I can`t think, I am dizzy all time, and I feel that I can`t move parts of my body when i need to. I have had numerous scans and tests and nothing is showing except still to this day the above average blood test results. I have seen a psychiatrists who can`t figure it out. I have been doing research on the Net. Could it be Conversion Disorder??? I am desperate for help. Thanks

Answer:

A conversion disorder is a type of somatoform disorder.  This means that psychological problems produce physical symptoms.  This is not a conscious decision -- a person doesn't decide to feel physically ill, but the physical problems do occur, and are related psychological stresses and problems.

Conversion disorder is relatively rare, compared to the more common general somatoform disorder.  It is often time limited with specific symptoms - when symptoms are more vague, or are numerous and changing, it is more likely to be a general somatoform disorder.

I cannot, of course, diagnose over the internet.  I would encourage you to see both your primary care doctor and a psychiatrist or psychologist for evaluation of a somatoform disorder.

Good Luck.

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati