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dissociative disorders symptoms

Dissociative disorders

The most common symptom in young people is loss of motor function but loss of function in any modality may be reported. Complaints of sensory loss involving sight, hearing or consciousness are not uncommon. The symptoms present as an ‘epidemic’ particularly involving girls where large numbers of children in a class report the same symptoms.

True prevalence is difficult to estimate as transient disorders are not brought to medical attention. Unlike the individual form, the disorder may arise in a number of individuals within a closed community, such as a school or children’s home. This variety of disorder is often described as ‘epidemic hysteria’.

Diagnosis of the condition is fraught with difficulties as a proportion of children diagnosed on follow-up have been shown to be suffering from an organic condition. Children who are referred usually have had extensive physical investigations. It is important to engage the family in exploring the psychological stressor without stigmatizing the patient as malingering. Individual and family work has been shown to be helpful.

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