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Conversion disorder in adolescents: A review and case report

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2020

A. De Cos Milas*
Affiliation:
Hospital Universitario de Móstoles, Child Psychiatry, Madrid, Spain
M. Garcia Moreno
Affiliation:
Hospital Universitario Puerta de Hierro, Psychiatry, Majadahonda, Madrid, Spain
V. Gómez Macías
Affiliation:
Fundación Hospital Alcorcón, Psychiatry, Alcorcon, Madrid, Spain
N.E. Chinchurreta de Lora
Affiliation:
Hospital Universitario de Móstoles, Child Psychiatry, Madrid, Spain
N. Rodríguez Criado
Affiliation:
Hospital Universitario de Móstoles, Psychiatry, Madrid, Spain
B. Sánchez Sánchez
Affiliation:
Hospital Universitario de Móstoles, Psychiatry, Madrid, Spain
*
* Corresponding author.
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Abstract

Introduction

Conversion disorder (CD) is an uncommon but highly disabling condition. Affected children and adolescents are often severely impaired and at risk of serious long-term physical and psychosocial complications. Despite the enormous personal suffering and health resource implications of CD, little research has been done.

Objectives

To update our knowledge about CD in adolescents, with a comprehensive review of the literature with special focus in prevalence, psychosocial factors, diagnosis, treatment and outcome.

Aims

To present the most relevant data of our review with a clinical illustration that provides a practical vision of this disorder.

Methods

A systematic literature review was performed in MEDLINE, with particular interest in papers published in the last 10 years. Clinical illustration is provided by a case selected from an outpatient child and adolescent mental health service.

Results

Few reliable prevalence data are available; the range goes from 0.2 in a German study to 31% in non-western clinical settings. Diagnosis is based on a constellation of features and treatment should involve several heath care professionals. CD has a favourable outcome in children and adolescents. However, mood and/or anxiety disorders are encountered at a considerable rate even after recovery from conversion symptoms. Long clinical follow-up seems appropriate.

Conclusions

The expression of emotional distress in the form of physical complaints is common in children. Nevertheless, the most severe presentation of physical symptoms is not a common topic in literature. More research should be done to improve our understanding of this disabling disorder.

Disclosure of interest

The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.

Type
EV250
Copyright
Copyright © European Psychiatric Association 2016

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