Among one of the many common psychological disorders is the conversion disorder, classified under somatoform disorders. It is a condition where psychological stress manifests itself in the form of physical symptoms, but upon examination, no underlying causes of the physical symptoms are found. It has been found that in most cases, the trigger for a conversion disorder may be extreme stress, personal fears, or a traumatic incident in the past that is associated with various triggers. This disorder can be pretty harsh on one who suffers from it; not only because of the personal stress that it brings, but also because of the lack of belief that people have in those suffering from this disorder. It is a tendency to assume that the person may be doing this for the attention, or that there is no ‘need’ to react in such a serious way when the trigger according to them is trivial. However, only the person suffering from this disorder will understand what he goes through when exposed to a trigger. So the first way of dealing with this disorder is to seek the help and support of loved ones. If you know someone who suffers from this disorder, give her/him all the support possible, and ensure that they don’t feel alone. While this is the starting step, there are several other ways of dealing with the problem. These have been discussed here.
How Individuals with Conversion Disorder can be Helped
We have already spoken about the stress that one undergoes when dealing with this disorder. I once knew someone who was a trained dancer, but every time she had to perform at a show, she would develop a severe pain in the leg a day or two before. This was probably because of her fear of performing in front of large crowds. As strange as it was then, it was understood much later that this was a conversion disorder. So while the physical symptoms can be related to the reason of stress, some other common symptoms of this condition (after exposure to a trigger) include the inability to speak, numbness and the inability to feel pain, paralysis (in some cases), and in very serious cases, seizures. To protect oneself from these symptoms again and again, here are some methods that should be followed.
Identifying Triggers and Avoiding Them
When that girl sought to be a professional dancer but feared the reaction of the crowd, not much could be done to avoid the trigger of pain. This was something she would have to deal with regularly, and to get over it; she would have to avoid performing amid an audience for a while as she sought professional help. On the other hand, if there are simpler things that can be avoided, they should be avoided. For instance, if someone starts to feel uncomfortable in large crowds, such areas should be avoided, at least for a while before the treatment can begin. Once other treatment methods are adopted, the person can be exposed to the trigger slowly and steadily.
Getting professional help is the next step to coping with a conversion disorder. Counseling and psychotherapy sessions are extremely helpful in identifying the root cause of the problem and then providing help dealing with these stressors. These sessions are particularly helpful in preventing a relapse into the condition. Psychotherapy helps explain to a patient that the problem isn’t as big as it seems, in terms of the trigger as well as the effect that it produces.
Avoiding Unnecessary Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are not only triggered by our deepest fears. Not being able to reach a particular place on time, the inability to cope up with relationships, and other such problems are also stressful. If an effort is made to avoid at least these stressors, the trouble caused by this disorder can be reduced to a certain extent. Any situation that will worsen an existing condition can wreak havoc on the mind and body.
Meeting Similarly Affected Individuals
Acquainting oneself with others who have suffered from this condition, and learning how they dealt with it is a great way of understanding how a conversion disorder can be dealt with. Some interactions can be truly helpful, and also tell the patient that he is not the only one suffering from such a condition. Finally, such interactions also symbolize the fact that this condition can be successfully treated, and that if one person overcame his fear, so can the patient himself.
In reality, as dreadful as it sounds, conversion disorder when perceived from an outsider’s point of view, really isn’t a very dangerous condition. It is definitely stressful, but if dealt with appropriately, along with the love and support of friends and family, it can be overcome successfully.