Individuals who suffer from conversion disorder often struggle to get the help they need. They may often be told they are just making up their symptoms to get attention. However, not only is this condition real, but the symptoms these individuals suffer are too.
Schmidt Kramer explains more about conversion disorder, including why it is so challenging to treat and diagnose. If you suffer from this mental health condition and are unable to work, it may be possible to seek Social Security Disability benefits.
Need help seeking benefits? You can contact our law offices 24/7 to request a FREE case review with an experienced Harrisburg Social Security disability lawyer from our firm.
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What is Conversion Disorder?
Conversion disorder is a mental health condition that is accompanied by physical symptoms. Typically, it is triggered by some type of stress or traumatic event. People suffering from this condition may experience serious physical symptoms that have no medical explanation. Some individuals may suffer from conversion disorder all of their lives. It could start as early as childhood for some. However, everyone does not experience it in the same way.
The medically known term for conversion disorder is functional neurological symptom disorder. The more commonly known name refers to the way the brain takes mental issues or trauma and converts them into physical symptoms.
If you have this disorder, you already know that you cannot control your symptoms or make them stop just by thinking positively or wishing them away.
What Symptoms May Indicate Conversion Disorder?
Conversion disorder has a range of symptoms. However, those suffering from this mental health condition will not have every symptom. If you have been diagnosed with conversion disorder, the symptoms you have largely depend on the area of your brain that is affected.
Symptoms may include:
- Interruptions to your senses – including the ability to see, touch, smell taste and hear. Individuals may experience double-vision or total blindness. They may also suffer total hearing loss or be unable to feel something touch their skin.
- Paralysis, due to muscle weakness, can also happen
- Difficulties swallowing (dysphagia)
- Loss of balance or weakness when walking
- Struggling to speak or being completely unable to speak
- Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES): These types of seizures are brought on by other mental health conditions. It is not brought on in the same way as an epileptic seizure.
- Chronic fatigue
- Fainting spells
- Physical pain
Who is at Risk for Conversion Disorder?
Conversion disorder is not highly common, but studies show approximately 4-12 out of every 100,000 individuals are diagnosed annually in the U.S. Those most at risk for conversion disorder include individuals who:
- Have other mental health conditions – such as depression, anxiety or personality disorders
- Suffered a recent trauma or stressful incident
- Have a history of physical or sexual abuse as a child
- Sustained some other health condition or traumatic event (these events can act as triggers)
Conversion disorder can happen at any age. However, it is rare for children under the age of ten to have it. Older people are also less likely to suffer from this condition.
Can I Qualify for Disability if I have Conversion Disorder?
There is no argument that conversion disorder can have a major impact on a person’s ability to work full-time in a normal career. If you suffer from this debilitating condition and expect to continue to have ongoing episodes for at least one full year, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
In addition to the medical criteria, however, you must also have been employed and paying taxes on your income for a minimum of five of the last 10 years.
How Do I Know if I Have Conversion Disorder?
Since conversion disorder creates or causes disruptions, atypical brain activity can be seen in diagnostic testing. If your doctor suspects this condition, he or she may order a functional MRI. This test shows your brain activity. Individuals suffering from conversion disorder are likely to have less brain activity or atypical brain activity.
That said, to accurately diagnose conversion order, your doctor will have to do a combination of specific physical and neurological examinations and tests.
All four of these elements must be present for someone to be diagnosed with conversion disorder:
- The symptoms you have are not consistent with any recognized medical conditions
- There is no other medical, physical or mental explanation for your symptoms
- Your symptoms disrupt your daily life, relationships and ability to work
- You are experiencing at least one of the symptoms of brain disruption over your senses or movement
In addition to an MRI, your doctor may also order the following tests:
- Electroencephalogram, or EEG
- Evoked potentials test
- Computerized tomography (CT Scan)
- Blood tests to check for any toxins that could be causing your symptoms
Can Conversion Disorder Be Cured?
Symptoms of conversion disorder may be persistent and severe or come and go. There are treatments available. Although individuals suffer physical symptoms, the symptoms stem from a mental health disorder. For this reason, treatment usually begins with some type of mental health therapy or psychotherapy, such as:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Group or family therapy
- Physical therapy
What Steps Should I Take to File a Claim for SSDI benefits?
Seeking SSDI benefits for conversion disorder is extremely challenging. As such, you may greatly benefit from having an attorney who can guide you through the process and also fight to protect your interests.
The process of seeking SSDI benefits is time-consuming. It is also extremely confusing for those who do not handle these claims on a regular basis.
If you need to seek Social Security disability for your conversion disorder, we strongly recommend seeking legal help as soon as possible.
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