Functional neurological disorder (FND) is a condition in which there is a problem with how the brain receives and sends information to one or more parts of the body. FND is not caused by a disease or injury. For reasons not understood, the nervous (neurological) system does not work properly.
FND symptoms may include weakness and paralysis of the limbs, seizures, tremors and jerks, and other nervous system symptoms.
Conversion disorder; Functional neurological symptom disorder
FND has no known cause. However, stress or a mental or physical trauma can trigger FND. It can also occur with no known trigger.
Certain factors may make a person more susceptible to FND:
FND is uncommon in children under age 10. Before age 50, it is more likely to occur in women. After age 50 it affects both men and women equally.
While the cause of FND is unclear, this condition and its symptoms are real. It causes serious distress and cannot be turned on and off at will.
FND can cause a variety of symptoms that affect body movement, senses, and thinking:
There is no one single test for FND. Your provider will do physical, neurological, and psychiatric exams and may order diagnostic tests. These are to check for medical causes of the symptom.
Treatment for FND will depend on what symptoms you experience. You may work with different providers, including:
Treatments may include:
It can also help to learn about FND and understand that your symptoms are real, even without a medical cause. Knowing that there is no serious medical cause may help you feel less anxious and more able to cope.
More information and support for people with FND and their families can be found at:
Symptoms usually last for days to weeks and may suddenly go away while others may last for years. The symptom itself is usually not life threatening, but complications can be debilitating.
See your provider or mental health professional if you or someone you know has symptoms of functional neurological disorder.
American Psychiatric Association. Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-5-TR). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association Publishing; 2022.
Gerstenblith TA, Kontos N. Somatic symptom disorders. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 24.
Reviewed By: Fred K. Berger, MD, addiction and forensic psychiatrist, Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 11/09/2023.