What are the treatments for conversion disorder?
Since the symptoms of each patient with conversion disorder are different, treatments must be tailored to each individual patient. Doctors from many specialties can be involved in treatment. These include neurologists, physiotherapists (help with movement symptoms, such as muscle spasms, tremors, and/or weakness), psychiatrists/psychologists, physical and occupational therapists.
As the patient, the first step to your successful treatment is to understand your diagnosis. Although it is comforting to know that your concerns are not the sign of some rare neurological disease, it is equally important to understand how your doctors determined the diagnosis of conversion disorder. Many of the physical neurologic tests you likely took showed that the nerves to the affected limbs were actually fully intact. Ask your physician to further explain these tests. The more you understand about your condition, the greater the likelihood that treatment will be a success.
Much of the focus of treatment is on “retraining the brain.” Since the nervous system is intact and the problem is in the signaling exchange between the brain and nerves, the goal of treatment is to relearn normal functions. Some of the more commonly recommended treatments include:
- Psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT involves learning about the disorder, recognizing triggers and symptoms, and learning new ways to respond and control them.
- Stress management training to make symptoms more manageable
- Physical therapy for weak limbs, walking problems, other movement problems
- Occupational therapy
- Speech therapy
- Medications to treat the medical conditions that may co-exist in patients affected with conversion disorder