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Seven myths about FND- busted!

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

Whether you have just been diagnosed with FND or have been living with it for a long time there are lots of myths and misconceptions about FND so read our myth busting guide to make sure you know the facts.

1. The symptoms are not real or they “are all in your head”

FND symptoms are real and they are not all in your head. The clue is in the title. You have neurological symptoms but they are not organic in origin. That means your brain is healthy, your body works but the messages between your body and your brain are not working or functioning correctly.

2. You are faking your symptoms

Absolutely not. Don’t put up with anyone (including yourself!) telling you that you are faking your symptoms. FND symptoms are out of your conscious control but because they come and go and because they get worse under certain conditions it doesn’t mean you are making it up. In fact being aware of what makes your symptoms worse or better can be the key to gaining more insight into your condition and the first step to effective self management.

3. You have to have a mental health issue to be diagnosed with FND

Some people with FND have had precious or current experiences with anxiety, low mood or trauma. Some people can have complex and severe mental health needs. Some people are neuro divergent. You should never be diagnosed with FND on the presence or absence of mental health needs. FND should only ever be diagnosed on the basis of positive neurological tests for FND.

4. FND is just a diagnosis you get given when the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with you.

This is one of the most harmful myths about FND and it stops people trusting their doctors and therapists. FND is not a diagnosis of exclusion. It is a diagnosis that is made based on positive signs during a neurological examination and with a clear brain scan.

5. FND is “just stress”

FND is stressful but plenty of people have stress and don’t develop FND. Stress can make symptoms worse but stress can make every neurological (or non neurological) condition worse. However the same skills that help you recover from FND can also be the same skills that help reduce stress in t

he future. So any recovery you make from FND will also set you up in good stead for navigating the way through the rest of your life.

6. It's not possible to recover from FND

Absolutely not true. FND can be reversible for lots of people. About a third of people make a complete recovery within a year of diagnosis. I know this from my clinical practice and my personal experience.

7. FND symptoms stay the same over time

Again, this simply isn’t true and it’s one of the most frustrating parts of living with FND. Quite often one symptom can resolve and another can appear after a while, like an neurological game of whack-a-mole. One of the most common conversations I have in my clinical practice is supporting people to understand how FND symptoms may change over time, but the mechanisms of the disorder remain the same. That’s why any therapy you have should focus on the underlying mechanisms of FND which can lead to long lasting, sustainable recovery rather than taking a purely symptom based approach.

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