Neurological dysfunction is a condition related to the way the brain works rather than structural damage to the brain. This disorder has nervous system symptoms that cannot be explained by a neurological disease or other medical condition. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to a full recovery.
What is a functional neurological disorder?
Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) is characterized by symptoms in the body due to problems in the nervous system. However, these symptoms are not caused by disease or by an organic neurological disorder. The term “functional” here means that the body is not working as it should.
People with FND remain aware of their own symptoms. At the same time, they still have the ability to study, work and maintain relationships. This is also a feature that helps to distinguish functional neurological disorders from other types of psycho-neurological disorders.
Through many studies, experts have determined that FND often occurs because the brain is inhibited, excessively excited or can also be caused by a sudden change between the two states. This condition is often associated with long-term stress or trauma.
The exact prevalence of neurological dysfunction is unknown. However, research shows that FDN is the second most common cause of neurological patients to visit outpatient clinics at medical facilities, after headaches and migraines, accounting for about 1/6 of the diagnoses. guess. This suggests that FND is as common as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
FND can affect anyone, at any time, although the disorder is not common in children under 10 years of age. FND is more likely to affect women than men for most symptoms. However, when the patient is over 50 years old, it occurs equally in both groups.
FDN can exist with other medical conditions. It can have symptoms similar to those of multiple sclerosis, stroke, and epilepsy. Some patients have both neurological diagnoses such as FND and stroke.
Anxiety and depression can also sometimes cause physical symptoms that overlap with those of FND. For example, panic attacks can occur with symptoms such as pins and needles in the fingers, and depression often causes poor concentration or fatigue. Anxiety and depression are common in people with FND, but many patients do not have this problem.
Chronic pain may also be common in patients with FND, most commonly fibromyalgia, which is also related to dysfunction of the nervous system. Pain disorders are also commonly associated with fatigue, poor concentration, and sleep disturbances.
Other dysfunctions including overactive bladder syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome are more common in patients with FND. It is important that new symptoms are not automatically considered as symptoms. At the same time other causes should be considered and investigated as appropriate.
Causes of neurological dysfunction
The exact cause of psychosis is still unknown. Although studies are giving hints as to how and why it develops. Various predisposing factors can make a person more susceptible to FND. Such as having another neurological disease, fatigue, stress or chronic pain. However, some people with FND do not have these risk factors.
By the time FND begins, studies suggest that triggers may be present. Such as physical trauma, panic attacks, migraines or infectious diseases. They can give a person a first-hand experience of symptoms.
These early symptoms tend to go away on their own. In dysfunction, however, symptoms can be “stuck” in a “pattern” within the nervous system. This pattern will be reflected in altered brain activity. The result is a problem that the patient cannot control.
Historically, FND has often been viewed as a complete psychological disorder. In which pent-up psychological stress or trauma is transformed into physical symptoms. Psychological disturbances and stressful events may be risk factors for the development of FDN in some patients. However, a full explanation of the cause has not yet been given. Because some people don’t have this condition.
Recent theories suggest that FND has multiple causes and that causal factors are often different in each subject. Certain psychological factors such as past trauma or stress at the time of FND symptom onset are important in understanding how the brain is misbehaving. In others, however, the presence of certain problems such as physical trauma or migraines is what matters most.
Some of the risk factors that may increase your risk of developing a neurological disorder include:
- Have another neurological disease or disorder, such as migraines, epilepsy, or movement disorders
- Recent significant stress, mental or physical trauma
- Pre-existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, or certain personality disorders
- Having a family member with a medical condition or neurological symptoms
- Have a history of physical or sexual abuse
- Abandoned as a child
- Women may be more likely to get the disease than men
Signs of neurological dysfunction
Nervous system dysfunction mainly affects the central nervous system (including the autonomic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system). In particular, the autonomic nervous system will usually be the most affected organ (including the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems).
The autonomic nervous system governs the body’s automatic activities. Such as endocrine, excretory, circulatory, nutrition, digestive, etc. Therefore, when suffering from neurological dysfunction, patients often experience a multitude of physical symptoms. Most of them are due to sympathetic hyperactivity (ie, the sympathetic system is more active than the parasympathetic system).
According to analysis, neurological dysfunction is a disease with diverse manifestations. Among them, cardiovascular-related symptoms are thought to be the most common. At the same time, this is also the reason why patients seek medical facilities.
Symptoms that affect movement and body function include:
- Weakness or paralysis
- Abnormal movements, such as difficulty walking or shaking
- Difficulty swallowing or feeling a lump in the throat
- Seizures or episodes of tremors and obvious loss of consciousness (also called non-epileptic seizures)
- Excessive sweating in the face, palms, feet and some other areas of the upper body
- Women often have amenorrhea, amenorrhea, menstrual disorders and difficulty conceiving
- Men may experience decreased libido, prone to premature ejaculation
- Difficulty gripping (often intermittently, occurring mainly in the afternoon)
- Shortness of breath, or shortness of breath, sometimes even a feeling of fatigue and heaviness when breathing
Symptoms that affect the senses may include:
- Numbness or loss of feeling to touch
- Speech problems such as stuttering or inability to speak
- Hearing problems or deafness
- Vision problems, possibly double vision or blindness
- Cognitive difficulties related to memory and concentration
Seek medical attention early if your signs and symptoms worry you or they affect your ability to function. Early diagnosis and treatment are very important. If a neurological disorder is diagnosed, treatment will help improve symptoms and prevent future problems.
Diagnosis of neurological dysfunction
Diagnosis of neurological dysfunction is often difficult. Because the symptoms are not due to an identifiable neurological cause or abnormalities in the brain. There is no one specific test that can identify this condition.
The diagnosis of FND usually involves ruling out possible conditions, such as a stroke or another nerve injury. Therefore, late diagnosis or misdiagnosis is quite common.
The first step a doctor takes to diagnose FND is to gather a detailed medical history and conduct a review of symptoms. They will look specifically at neurological symptoms, such as paralysis or vision problems, that are inconsistent with the individual’s disease or known medical conditions.
Medical tests may also be needed to identify or rule out medical conditions. Such as:
- Blood tests
- Biochemical test
- Computed tomography (CT scan)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
The patient may then undergo various psychological assessments to identify any possible psychiatric conditions. Mood or anxiety disorders, for example, can coincide with dysfunction.
The doctor will also collect information about recent or past life events. Especially trauma or stressors before symptoms begin. This is not required for the diagnosis of FND but it is a common risk factor that can help support the diagnosis.
Direction of treatment of functional neurological disorders
The treatment of neurological dysfunction requires a balance and involves a variety of approaches. This means that doctors and specialists from many departments will be needed. This includes a neurologist, general practitioner, physiotherapist or counselor.
One of the most important aspects of FND treatment is making the patient understand their diagnosis. Because of the severe physical symptoms, many people will have a negative reaction to a diagnosis of FND. They may feel distrustful of the doctor.
Physicians should approach this discussion therapeutically to reassure patients that their symptoms are very real and not fabricated. Also explain to them the conflict between physical and mental. Establishing trust between the patient and the physician is crucial for the treatment of neurologic disorders.
Different treatments may include:
1. Therapeutic methods
Depending on the symptoms of each patient, the doctor may recommend the following therapies:
- Physical therapy: Patients need to work with a physical therapist to improve motor symptoms and prevent complications. For example, frequent movement of the arms or legs to avoid muscle strain or weakness in the event of paralysis or loss of mobility. Gradually increasing exercise can also improve your ability to function.
- Speech therapy: If you experience symptoms including problems with speech or swallowing, there are many benefits to working with a speech therapist.
- Stress or distraction techniques: Stress reduction techniques can include several methods such as muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, exercise, and physical activity. Distracting techniques can be music, talking to others, or deliberately changing the way you move or walk.
2. Therapy for mental health
How you feel and how you think about things can affect your symptoms and recovery. Psychiatric treatment options often include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This is a psychotherapy that helps you become aware of incorrect or negative thoughts so that you can see situations more clearly and react to them in a different way. more efficient way. Cognitive behavioral therapy also helps you learn how to better manage stressful life situations. This is especially beneficial when your symptoms include non-epileptic seizures. Other types of psychotherapy can also be helpful when you have interpersonal problems or a history of trauma or abuse.
- Treating other mental health conditions: Depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems may worsen symptoms of the dysfunction. Treating mental health conditions alongside FND can help people recover more effectively and quickly.
3. Occupational therapy
Symptoms such as weakness, paralysis, or altered sensations can make it difficult for a person with a neurological disorder to participate in their daily lives, work, school, or relationships. as before. Occupational therapy will help them return to normal activities soon through changing the environment, using assistive devices, conditioning the senses, strengthening exercises, etc.
Drug use is believed to be the mainstay of the treatment of neurologic dysfunction. The medications used will usually help regulate the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. It also improves pain sensation in organs.
Your doctor may prescribe some of the following medications:
Tricyclic antidepressants are preferred. This is because this drug can help relieve pain caused by sensory disturbances, and significantly improve sleep quality. Doctors usually prescribe the drug in low doses. Then gradually increase the dose until a therapeutic effect is achieved. Medications used may include:
Anticonvulsants are used to suppress the excitability of the brain. Thereby helping to reduce the sharp pain that occurs in some organs. Commonly prescribed medications include:
– Other drugs:
As mentioned, neurologic dysfunction often causes a variety of symptoms. Therefore, in addition to the two groups of drugs mentioned above, the doctor may ask the patient to use some other drugs to control symptoms. In addition, patients can also use additional oral tablets or functional foods to help restore nerve cells.
With the exception of antidepressants, other medications are only used for short periods of time to limit side effects. In addition to improving symptoms, antidepressants also have the ability to balance neurotransmitters. This helps to improve circulation, while preventing recurrent FND symptoms.
In addition to the medical methods, the patient should pay attention to self-care. Because this is also an effective solution to help improve functional neurological disorders. Some issues to keep in mind include:
- Physical activity: Regular exercise can help control some of the physical symptoms caused by FND. In addition, the process of exercise also stimulates the body to release the hormone endorphin, which has the ability to relieve stress and regulate emotions. Patients with FND are advised to spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day in appropriate physical activity.
- Eat healthy: The right diet helps people improve their overall health. This is also important for the management of symptoms of neurologic dysfunction. Patients need to build a healthy diet. Pay attention to stay away from alcohol, drugs or foods high in sugar and saturated fat.
- Massage: This is a simple relaxation therapy that brings many benefits to the treatment of FND. Massage has the effect of relaxing muscles, supporting the regulation of biochemical factors and reducing pain sensation in some organs. When massaging, you can use some scented essential oils to increase the feeling of relaxation. It also helps to improve sleep quality.
- Stay optimistic: In fact, people with FND are more likely to be suggested. Depression and pessimism can make symptoms worse. Keeping a happy, upbeat attitude can help speed recovery. In addition, mental well-being also helps to respond well to treatments.
Neurological disorders need to be treated early to limit both physical and psychological problems. When you discover suspicious signs, you should actively consult a doctor. Along with medical treatment, it is necessary to combine with self-improvement measures at home to make the recovery process faster.