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You’ve made the diagnosis of functional neurological disorder: now what?

Abstract

Patients with functional neurological disorders (FND)/conversion disorder commonly present to outpatient clinics. FND is now a ‘rule in’ diagnosis based on neurological examination findings and semiological features. While neurologists may be more comfortable diagnosing patients with FND, there is only limited guidance as to how to conduct follow-up outpatient visits. Using clinical vignettes, we provide practical suggestions that may help guide clinical encounters including how to: (1) explore illness beliefs openly; (2) enquire longitudinally about predisposing vulnerabilities, acute precipitants and perpetuating factors that may be further elucidated over time; (3) facilitate psychotherapy engagement by actively listening for potentially unhelpful or maladaptive patterns of thoughts, behaviours, fears or psychosocial stressors that can be reflected back to the patient and (4) enquire about the fidelity of individual treatments and educate other providers who may be less familiar with FND. These suggestions, while important to individualise, provide a blueprint for follow-up FND clinical care.

  • conversion disorder
  • functional movement disorders
  • psychogenic nonepileptic seizures
  • neuropsychiatry

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