- FND is a real and significant condition, not merely psychological or ‘imaginary’. It’s crucial to acknowledge the physical reality of the symptoms that patients experience, as their dismissal can lead to delayed diagnosis and inappropriate treatment.
- The stigma surrounding FND is harmful and needs to be actively combated. This stigma often arises from misconceptions about the disorder and can lead to patients feeling dismissed or not taken seriously by healthcare professionals.
- There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment for FND, but a multidisciplinary approach involving various healthcare professionals can lead to significant improvements in symptoms and quality of life.
- FND is not a rare condition. It is the second most common reason for a neurological outpatient visit. However, despite its prevalence, it remains under-discussed and under-researched.
- The field of FND research is rapidly evolving, and better understanding of the disorder will lead to improved patient care. There’s a need for increased training for healthcare professionals and public education to improve the diagnosis, treatment, and societal understanding of FND.
- It’s crucial to foster a more empathetic and informed approach towards patients with FND. This begins with open discussion and awareness, replacing myths and misconceptions with evidence-based understanding.
Functional Neurological Disorders (FND) represent a unique category of conditions where patients present neurological symptoms such as movement and sensory disorders, yet traditional clinical investigations fail to reveal a clear structural or biochemical cause. Despite their high prevalence in neurological and psychiatric clinical settings, these disorders often remain enshrouded in mystery, leading to several misconceptions and, in many instances, stigmatization of the affected individuals.
One of the most prevalent myths is the perception of FND as a purely psychological or even ‘imaginary’ condition, a relic from the days when such disorders were referred to as ‘hysterical’. While it’s true that emotional stress can trigger or exacerbate symptoms in some patients, it is overly simplistic and indeed incorrect to label FND as a psychological illness. Many patients with FND do not have any psychiatric history, and their symptoms are as real and disabling as those with a clear organic cause.
This myth is particularly damaging as it often leads to delays in diagnosis, inappropriate treatment plans, and societal stigma. Patients frequently report feeling dismissed or not taken seriously by healthcare professionals, contributing to feelings of frustration and helplessness.
Another common misconception is that there is no effective treatment for FND. In reality, a multidisciplinary approach involving neurologists, psychiatrists, physical and occupational therapists, and psychologists can bring about significant improvements in symptoms and quality of life. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and physiotherapy have been shown to be particularly beneficial.
Furthermore, many assume that FND is a rare condition. However, FND is the second most common reason for a neurological outpatient visit, following headaches. Despite this, the condition remains under-discussed and under-researched, with many healthcare professionals admitting a lack of knowledge and comfort in managing these patients.
The field of FND research is rapidly evolving, with new insights into the potential role of functional brain changes and disease mechanisms. There is also increasing recognition of the need for better training of healthcare professionals and public education to combat the stigma associated with FND.
It’s high time we debunked these myths and replaced them with a nuanced, evidence-based understanding of FND. Doing so will not only lead to better patient care but also encourage further research into this complex and often misunderstood area of neurology. As a community, we need to foster a more empathetic and informed approach towards patients with FND. The path to better understanding begins with open discussion and awareness – let’s start the conversation here.