A functional neurological disorder (FND) can appear like a neurological disease, but lack all the defining features. It is almost always possible to exclude FND with neurological investigations.
For example, someone may present to their GP or neurologist with tremor, weakness, loss of sensation, in-coordination, even seizures, but after a process of evaluation and usually investigation, nothing has been found to explain the symptoms from the actual workings of the nervous system, which remains intact.
Being told by any ‘healthcare professional’ that the problem is all ‘in your head’ or ‘you’re imagining it’ or worse, ‘faking it’, never helps. It is essential that a neuropsychiatrist becomes involved to look more closely at any possible non-organic triggers or problems. Sometimes a history of psychological trauma, at some point in life, is found that may help explain the probable aetiology (or roots) but often there is nothing that points to any trauma at all.
Very rarely, individuals deliberately feign symptoms for gain. This is very unusual, but is known to happen and is called malingering.
Functional Neurological Disorders Diagnoses
Dissociative seizures are fits. They look like fits, even when seen by some doctors, and occasionally are extremely difficult to tell apart from seizures due to abnormal electrical discharges in the brain.
Other Common Types of Functional Symptoms
Symptoms of functional neurologic disorders may vary depending on the type of functional neurologic disorder (Mayo Clinic).
Symptoms can affect body movement, function and the senses.
Somatoform Disorders Including Somatisation and Hypochondriasis
These are uncommon conditions but represent a huge personal burden of disability for the sufferer and the healthcare system.
Those affected can present with many types of symptoms, in the same way as FND and can include symptoms of severe pain, unresponsive to treatment.