What Are the Most Common Conversion Disorder Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Clara Kedrek
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 19 April 2019
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Patients with conversion disorder can have a broad range of complaints. Common symptoms include problems with sensory function, defects in the ability to move the body, pain, and other neurological complaints. Due to its variety of presentations, this psychological disorder can be difficult to diagnose. Often, it can be hard to distinguish symptoms caused by underlying medical conditions from those associated with the conversion disorder. Close attention to the constellation of symptoms present can point towards the diagnosis of conversion disorder, especially if the symptoms are unable to be explained by other diagnoses.

One common category of conversion disorder symptoms is problems with sensation. Patients might feel that one or more of their five senses is not functioning properly. For example, patients can report blindness or loss of part of their vision. They might complain of numbness or tingling throughout their bodies. Other patients with this disorder might have an inability to properly hear.

Other conversion disorder symptoms can encompass problems with motor function, or the ability to move. One common symptom is paralysis, which is the inability to move a certain part of the body. Patients might report quadriplegia, which is the inability to move all four extremities, or hemiparesis, which is the inability to move either the left or right half of the body. Additional problems with motor function can include an inability to talk, unsteady walking, and problems urinating.


Pain is another one of the most common conversion disorder symptoms. Patients can complain of pain in any part of their body. Common locations for pain include the head, the joints, the extremities, the abdomen, and the pelvis. The characteristics of the pain can vary from patient to patient, and could be sharp, dull, cramping, or aching in nature.

Other neurological complaints are sometimes seen as conversion disorder symptoms. Some patients report seizure-like activity in which parts of their body shake uncontrollably. Others have episodes of fainting or losing consciousness. Symptoms of amnesia and inability to recall memories from the past are other common complaints seen in these patients.

Diagnosis can be complicated due to the fact that symptoms of conversion disorder are sometimes, but not always, consistent with other known diseases. For example, many people with strokes have slurred speech paired with weakness on one side of their bodies. A patient with conversion disorder could have these symptoms, or could have weakness in the right arm and left leg. The latter set of complaints is harder to explain by a known medical disease as it doesn’t follow the anatomic distribution of the nerves. As a result, the diagnosis of conversion disorder might be considered.



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