What Is a Conversion Disorder and How Does It Manifest in Teens?

 What Is a Conversion Disorder and How Does It Manifest in Teens?

What Is a Conversion Disorder and How Does It Manifest in Teens? ichhori.com

PANDEMIC, only a eight letter word but has a lot of impact on the lives of the humans when it hits the human population. According to Dan Epstien, the spokesperson of the Pan American Health Organisation, ‘a pandemic is basically a global epidemic, an epidemic that spreads to more than one continent.’ But then this brings forward the question that ‘What is Epidemic?’ Epidemic is a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time. (According to oxford languages) 

But today we are talking about pandemic because in today’s article we are going to learn about Conversion Disorder, how does it manifests in teens and it’s relation to the ongoing pandemic. We all are aware about the ongoing pandemic, as still we have face it’s wrath and stay locked up inside confined spaces of our homes as much as possible, in order to avoid getting infected with Covid. Covid had stopped our lives and it is starting to get back to normal only now but that too with a lot of difficulties. And this ongoing pandemic has not stopped our daily lives and made us stay put in our homes but also has snatched away many of our loved ones from us. And this becomes one of the main reasons why need to more about Conversion Disorder and how it affects the teens; our nation’s future.

Conversion Disorder – According to a report presented by Newport Academy, Conversion Disorder is defined as a psychological condition that causes physical symptoms like paralysis and blindness (extreme conditions). Conversion Disorder is caused by traumatic, extremely stressful experiences, isolation, loneliness, loss of a loved one and fear of Covid 19. 

Conversion Disorder is categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders often abbreviated to DSM – 5, as a somatic symptom disorder, which is also known as conversion neurosis, functional neurological disorder, dissociative disorder, and functional movement disorder. Conversion Disorder also is a mental disorder/condition in which a person suffers from blindness, paralysis or other nervous system disorders that cannot be explained by medical evaluation. 

All these medical terms may seem difficult to understand for us normal people, so let’s take help of an example to understand Conversion Disorder in more simpler terms. For example, Imagine yourself riding a bike and suddenly you had a large fall, and you are unable to move your arm, but arm isn’t injured nor is any other body part of yours. So what exactly is happening here? Well the answer is, your body converted the emotional and psychological stress of your fall into the physical response of a paralyzed arm, and although this may seem strange but the symptoms are real and you can’t even stop them. 

Now, that we are clear with the idea of Conversion Disorder, let’s have a look at what are the causes of Conversion Disorder:

  • Conversion Disorder happens as a way of your brain to deal with emotional stress.

  • Happens to people with history of emotional stress.

  • Likely to occur to people who are unable to share their feelings.

  • Women are more likely to get affected than men.

  • Physical symptoms that sometimes help with internal conflicts, like for example if you are struggling with your desire to hurt someone, then Conversion Disorder may cause you to become paralyzed, thus making it impossible for you to act on your desire to hurt someone. 

  • Extreme emotional stress or death of a loved one.

  • Trauma caused by an incident and extremely stressful conditions. 

The above mentioned reasons can be the causes of Conversion Disorder and now let’s have a look at the symptoms of the Conversion Disorder:

Conversion Disorder usually comes suddenly and has problems with one’s nervous system, like brain, spinal cord and the nerves. 

  • Movements that are out of your control.

  • Sudden loss of smell and speech

  • Appearance of Tunnel vision (loss of a person’s peripheral vision, a result of the loss of one’s peripheral sight or side vision) and complete blindness. 

  • Body numbness or paralysis. 

  • Symptoms also affect the senses.

  • Although one should remember that symptoms are not caused by substance abuse (use of illegal drugs, use of prescription or over the counter drugs or alcohol for purposes other than they are meant to use, in excessive amounts)

Apart from the above mentioned symptoms for Conversion Disorder, The American Psychiatric Association has set some standard symptoms to diagnose Conversion Disorder and they are as follows:

  • The Conversion Disorder affects one’s senses and movements that is not in their control. 

  • Although it may seem like the person with the symptoms is faking it, but they are not. It is real.

  • These symptoms can’t be explained by any other medication, condition or behaviour.

  • They are not caused by any other mental health problems, although people with existing mental health conditions like Anxiety disorder, personality disorders are prone to it.

  • And last but not the least, they cause stress in social and work settings.

And now finally let’s have a look at how does Conversion Disorder manifest in teens?

As  already mentioned that Conversion Disorder occurs to an individual who affected by stress and extremely traumatic situations and Covid 19 happens to do the same for everyone but more specifically affecting the teens. Teens are affected by Conversion Disorder because of the fear of Covid 19 or the stress and trauma caused by it but other than that as well there many reasons related to Covid 19 and much more that leads to Conversion Disorder in teens like, Academic pressure, performance pressure, peer pressure, bullying, demanding extracurricular activities, and pandemic conditions like remote and home schooling, locked up at homes, loss of person to person interaction like with friends and classmates, almost equal to zero social life an then last but not the least losing of a loved one and not being able to say final good bye.

Some of the most Conversion Disorder Symptoms in Teens are as follows:

  • Blindness usually temporary or double vision.

  • Paralysis of the arms and legs.

  • Loss of sense of smell and hearing.

  • Having issues in swallowing food or a feeling of lump formed in throat.

  • Loss of sense of touch and numbness of muscles.

  • Convulsions or seizures.

  • Problems with coordination, like misbalanced walking.

  • Blackouts and Hallucinations.

And one can see that all the above mentioned symptoms are occurring because one’s nervous system is being affected because of Conversion Disorder. Nervous system being affected means, the brain, spinal cords and the nerves are affected thus there is blindness, loss of sense of smell, touch and hearing, so forth and so on. 

And some of the treatments for Conversion Disorder could be:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (Trauma focused) which helps teens reframe situations and develop and adapt healthy coping mechanisms.

  • Yoga and Meditation.

  • EMDR, which uses eyes movements to release stress.

  • Family Therapy – Family attachment helps teens release stress and share their feelings thus making them feel light. 

Thus, in already stressful situations like Covid, it becomes highly important for parents to look after their teens and make sure that they aren’t showing any of these symptoms and also make sure to spend some quality time together and not pressurize your teens into something that they are against of, because always remember ‘Mental Health is also important’. 

Total words – 1251

Ref: https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/what-is-a-conversion-disorder/#:~:text=In%20a%20nutshell%2C%2


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