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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Internalizing Stress or Conversion Disorder

03/06/2007

Question:

Where can I find information on internalizing stress where the symptoms are severe, such as blindness, tremors, inappropriate responses? I do not know the technical term. This is not due to a post traumatic event.

Answer:

I wonder if what you are referring to is a "conversion disorder."  A good website is at Medline (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000954.htm), a reliable source.  They describe a conversion reaction as a type of problem where psychological problems cause physical symptoms, usually very suddenly and following a traumatic event.  The types of physical symptoms usually the involve the loss of some major function, such as blindness, inability to move an arm or a leg or the inability to talk.

Conversion disorders are relatively rare, but having less severe physical symptoms related to emotional or psychological problems is quite common.  These include palpitations, tremors, headache or other pains, insomnia, etc.  It is important when these occur to focus on treating both the physical discomfort as well as the underlying emotional or psychological problems.

Good Luck.

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Response by:

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