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I Think I Have Functional Neurological Disorder. Now What?


Functional neurologic disorder is a more recent broader medical term that includes what has been known as conversion disorder but includes additional neurological symptoms. The difference is that FND is centered on nervous system symptoms that general medical conditions cannot explain. The symptoms are very real, but medical professionals have not discovered the exact origin. However, so far, medical research has found that there seems to be a link between FND and the sufferer experiencing a significant mental or emotional crisis. Some of these symptoms can cause considerable problems functioning in daily life. If you've been diagnosed with FND, you have probably experienced some or all of the following uncontrollable symptoms.

  • Pain, numbness or tingling sensations on one side of the body
  • Gait issues when walking
  • Fainting
  • Jerky movements
  • Spasms
  • Tremors
  • Weakness or paralysis of limbs
  • Vision issues
  • Speech problems
  • Seizures

If you think you may have FND or have recently been diagnosed with it, take the following steps. These steps will ensure you remain as healthy as possible during your treatment journey.

1. Ensure Your Diagnosis Is Accurate

It is a rare disease that remains a mystery to the medical community. Many people are misdiagnosed at least once before getting an accurate diagnosis of functional neurological disorder. Symptoms associated with FND are similar to other health issues. Therefore, it's easy to mistake it for other, sometimes severe conditions such as health anxiety, Guillain-Barré syndrome, HIV or AIDS, myasthenia gravis, stroke, lupus, spinal cord injury, and multiple sclerosis present many of the same symptoms as FND.

2. Begin Treatments Immediately

If you think you have FND, it's essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. While some people get better over time without treatment, specific therapies work well to lessen or eliminate symptoms.

3. Consider a Combination of Treatments

Doctors usually recommend getting a combination of treatments. Treatments could include some or all of the following:

  • Lifestyle improvement: Because FND is believed to be at least partially a result of stress, professionals recommend lowering your stress and anxiety levels. Many activities can help people with FND, such as meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, and yoga. Make sure to do things that make you happy every day, like socializing, reading, painting, crocheting, playing an instrument, etc. Being creative is a great way to take your mind off stressors for a while. Getting quality sleep and eating a healthy diet are also essential.
  • Psychotherapy: Some people with FND who have experienced a traumatic event or suffer from chronic depression or anxiety have found psychotherapy to benefit from easing their symptoms over time greatly. Cognitive behavior therapy or merely speaking with a psychologist regularly can help.
  • Physical therapy: Some of the main symptoms of FND are physical and can cause pain, weakness and limited mobility. Various physical therapy treatments can often help.
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation: Some people have found that TMS helps their FND symptoms. During this treatment, certain parts of the brain are stimulated using magnetic fields.
  • Medication: Antidepressants and antianxiety medications can help with the emotional aspect of FND and the emotions that may have triggered the onset of FND.

4. Stay Positive About the Future

People experience FND differently. Some may experience severe symptoms, and some only minor symptoms. Some people may have symptoms that last years, and others may go away after a relatively short time. Fortunately, symptoms are not life-threatening but can negatively affect a person's quality of life daily. Even in chronic cases, all hope is not lost. Ongoing treatments are likely to help enough to make daily life easier.

Medical research into FND and similar conditions is always getting closer to learning more about its causes and treatments. As time goes on, people with FND will be able to live more normal lives.

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