Conversion Disorders: Can Depression Cause Blindness?

Depression is often minimized by the person who has it and by friends and family of the person suffering with it. When one is depressed, we expect the person to have feelings of sadness, and apathy, because these are common symptoms of depression. However, symptoms of depression may involve more than lack of interest, fatigue, irritability and sadness. Some people suffering depression may have sensory problems. For instance, a person suffering from depression may experience unexplained blindness. When a person loses the functioning of a part of the body, such as blindness or the ability to speak, or paralysis of a limb due to depression or anxiety, this is called a conversion disorder.

There is no physical illness or condition which causes the inability to speak and think, except for these symptoms being a manifestation of depression. The same goes with blindness triggered by depression. The person who periodically cannot see due to depression will most likely have nothing wrong with the structure and function of their eyes. Everything will be working properly, but the person still doesn’t perceive sight.

When I talked to my psychiatrist about my aphasia, he told me about people who have nothing clinically wrong with their eyes, yet they are unable to see. He explained to me that these symptoms may come and go, just like my aphasia comes and goes. Even if a doctor thinks a condition such as blindness is psychogenic, the doctor has the duty to check you out.

A person that suffers from blindness due to depression will likely be put through a battery of tests. A family doctor will send the individual to an ophthalmologist, and possibly a neurologist. Tests will be done to visualize the structures in the eyes and brain. After all the tests are done and interpreted the doctor will render a diagnosis. If nothing is physically wrong, the patient may be diagnosed with blindness to depression or psychogenic blindness. This is especially true, if the blindness comes and goes.

Sometimes patients don’t just experience blindness, as total blackness. Sometimes they see light and dark, and sometimes they complain of tunnel vision or the inability to see clearly. The neurologist will check everything out, and if the patient’s complaints go against the known laws of optical medicine and neurology, the patient will probably be diagnosed with a psychogenic condition. Psychogenic conditions such as the inability to see, hear, speak or understand can, and often are, linked to depression.

Psychogenic blindness is sometimes called hysterical blindness. The mind is capable of mimicking conditions. It’s not entirely understood how this happens, but just like when a person is paralyzed when nothing is clinically wrong with them, is could possibly de determined that the paralysis was created by the mind during a period of depression.

Periods of going blind, becoming deaf, not being able to speak all seem rather severe manifestations of depression. Most people would say these symptoms are way over the top for depression, but would not think it was over the top to have back pain due to depression. Studies have shown that many people with frequent back pain suffer from some degree of chronic depression. One of the biggest reasons for being absent from work is due to chronic back pain. If it isn’t too much of a reach to believe that back pain can be triggered by depression, why is it such a far reach to accept that the mind truly does control the body?

Not too long ago, within the last 20 years, people who had depression or anxiety induced illnesses were labeled hypochondriacs. If you are depressed, see your doctor. Don’t let shame or fear keep you from getting proper treatment. You have probably seen announcements on TV that depression hurts. It really does hurt, at times. Depression can manifest in many different ways. If you notice something going wrong in your body, whether it is your eyesight, or some other function of your body, get it checked as soon as possible.

Sometimes, individuals who have disorders which are linked to depression and anxiety are said to be faking or they are called hypochondriacs. This may be because not much is understood about psychogenic disorders. However, people who suffer from conversion disorders due to depression are often disabled due to their condition. Approximately 82 percent of people draw disability payments for their disorder.


Conversion disorders

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