Depression not Ataxia

Have you ever been told that your symptoms are due to depression and not ataxia? Well, I had an appointment with a Neurologist at the National Hospital in London today. The neurologist told me that I have depression rather than ataxia. I have suffered from ataxia for the last 10 years. I am on crutches, my speech is bad, I choke on my food, my coordination is now worst than ever. I am under the care of the Neurology Dept at Royal Free Hospital, London, Because my ataxia is progressing fast my neurologist suggested that we have the opinion of someone specialized in the field.. And this is what I get. I am now more depressed than I ever was. Did anyone have similar experience in their life?

Hey Deo!

The first neurologist I saw with my wide gait, etc. first said it was just fibromyalgia, then, when a rheumatologist sent me back saying that's absurd, he told me it was conversion disorder -- a different psychological illness, but still.

Several PTs, neurologists, etc. since have taken me more seriously. Even a psychologist has ruled out conversion. I'm sorry about your appointment :c I hope you find someone who can help better than that!

Deo that is awful! Ever likely you feel depressed if thats what Dr’s are saying to you. I wouldnt stand for that I’d complain and demand to see someone who knows what they are talking about. Cant believe that there are “professionals” talking a load of rubbish like that, chin up and hope you are feeling better soon.x

Today I woke up worst than I was yesterday. I was really doing my best to cope with my symptoms. Even with my bad mobility and coordination. I joined a support group and am now trying to help setting out a second one. As Katie mentioned above the neurologist was probably referring to conversion disorder. I am a graduate and also a qualified nutritionist and clinical hypnotherapist. I clearly understand the difference between between a psychological/psychiatric disorder and ataxia. What the neurologist does not know is that I was a therapist for 'Anxiety UK' and I am still giving online advice on many sites like Anxiety Support Group, Anxiety Disorders, Social Anxiety etc.

In a research study Colm Owen et al mentions ' All doctors have encountered patients whose symptoms they cannot explain. These individuals frequently provoke despair and disillusionment. Many doctors make a link between inexplicable physical symptoms and assumed psychiatric illness. An array of adjectives in medicine apply to symptoms without established organic basis – ‘supratentorial’, ‘psychosomatic’, ‘functional’ – and these are sometimes used without reference to their real meaning. In psychiatry, such symptoms fall under the umbrella of the somatoform disorders, which includes a broad range of diagnoses. Conversion disorder is just one of these.'

According to DSM–IV criteria (American Psychiatric Association, 1994: p. 457), conversion disorder is characterised by:

  • one or more symptoms affecting voluntary motor or sensory function

  • resemblance to neurological or medical disease

  • involvement of psychological factors

  • unintentional, unfeigned symptoms.

Because my MRI and Genetic tests did not reveal anything positive it was easier for the neurologist to attribute my symptoms to a psychiatric/psychological disorder because of the similar symptoms mentioned in the DSM- IV.

My father and grandmother died with similar symptoms. Two other neurologists at Royal Free Hospital have already diagnosed me with Progressive Cerebellar Ataxia.

When my neurologist at Royal Free decided to refer me to the National Hospital I told her 'what's the point of referring me when I know that there is no cure for the disease'. She insisted that I go because of my progressive symptoms. This is what I get from it.

I am totally devastated because I really do not know what I suffer from and whether I should be on a psychiatic site rather than Ataxia.

Your help and support will be most appreciated.

Well like many people I’m no expert but your symptoms are exactly the same as my dad’s. He was diagnosed with spinocerebellar degeneration, no number or cause was found and I am just going through genetic testing as I am starting to display the same symptoms as he did. I feel terrible for you and how you must be feeling, dad suffered with depression and he was bed ridden for his final three years as it progressed. If any Dr would have said the choking, tremors, speech and balance problems were all in his head then there would have been uproar! I know depression can lead to all kinds of things but not the symptoms that you have, it’s probably because he knows absolutely nothing about the illness as not a great deal do! My dad was diagnosed and then discharged from the neuro as the was “nothing i can do” so we were just left to get on with it.