This is a complex one. What the neurologist says and what the psychologist says are two differing things.
The neurologist claims we don’t understand why FND occurs and it is simply the brain not firing as it should. The psychologist says it is the brain converting severe emotional trauma or stress into neurological ailments; hence the name conversion disorder. I, as a result, tend to use the two interchangeably. It is simply easier to call it FND.
FND despite all its neuro symptoms cannot be explained. There is no physical damage to the brain and nervous system, like in a stroke or Multiple sclerosis, it simply is not firing, sending and receiving signals as it should but we don’t really know why.
The symptoms are very real, disabling and sometimes severe. Some of the symptoms include:
- numbness and tingling in the limbs
- loss of sensory function such as hearing
- heart rate and breathing difficulties
- widespread pain like fibromyalgia
- digestive issues
- balance issues
- and many more
Symptoms can wax and wane and others linger more permanently and nobody really knows if these things will taper off or if they will suffer their lifetime with these upsetting symptoms.
The Fibromyalgia diagnosis is very similar to this, in that it is considered a brain and body malfunction and we don’t know why it happens and we can’t realistically treat it yet.
It has branch off disorders such as POTS, Dysautonomia, Vasovagal syncope and Migraine.
Depending on the symptoms and possible cause (trauma) treatment may include talking therapies like CBT, physiotherapy and stress reduction techniques. There is no medication considered to be of value although more recently drugs such as Amitriptaline are being prescribed for the pain.
It is a very misunderstood illness and many GPs have no idea what it is. This can make accessing care and support very difficult. It also makes treatment for other ailments hard. I went to a GP last year with pain in my flank and she dismissed it as ‘just the FND.’ I later ended up in crippling pain at A&E. Turned out I had a kidney infection and my treatment had been delayed for over a week due to that assumption.