You are here: Functional Disorders For Patients & Their families If you are a patient

If you are a patient

Not many people think about becoming chronically ill. Therefore, it is often a surprise, or maybe even a shock, when illness strikes.


Functional disorders are often temporary and many patients recover. However, for some people the condition becomes chronic. People with functional disorders face the same challenges as people with other disorders do. However, there are some challenges that make a functional disorder particularly difficult to handle.


Some of the factors that are unique to people with functional disorders are:


A lack of knowledge

In spite of the fact that functional disorders are as common as depression and more common than diabetes, there is a general lack of knowledge about the disorder – both among the general public and among specialists.

When you suffer from a disorder that nobody is familiar with, you will find it hard to explain what is wrong with you, and people around you will find it hard to understand that you are actually sick. It might happen that you, as a patient, don't get the support and treatment you need.

Many patients say that getting an explanation for their symptoms and meeting specialists who understand what it's all about make the disorder easier to bear. It may also be a help meeting others who are going through the same thing.

One of the purposes of this site is to increase the knowledge of functional disorders and thus work against the stigmatisation and lack of understanding that patients are met with.


Long-term and repeated sick leave

Treatment of a functional disorder may be long-term and some patients will have to live with it, the same way some people live with chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes or arthritis.

Patients with functional disorders who are on sick leave may experience that they have problems keeping their usual work tasks. In the worst cases, they risk losing their job and some lose their connection to the labour market altogether. Additionally, many patients are faced with difficulties with the social services' management of their case. Some may experience that their illness does not 'fit' in with the present rules and regulations.

Social workers and job consultants in Denmark are currently being informed about and trained in functional disorders. The purpose is that citizens on sick leave will be met with greater understanding and receive the best possible support and guidance everywhere.


No visible changes

Nobody likes to look sick. Still many patients with functional disorders say that it's a problem that no-one can see how sick they are. If you are sick and no-one can see it, people may look at you with suspicion.

Some patients are met with comments such as, 'You can't be that sick. You look great!'

It may be twice as hard fighting both an illness and prejudice, and at the same time having to prove that you are sick. Some patients have sometimes wished that they had lost a leg or suffered from a known kind of cancer instead of having an unknown and 'invisible' functional disorder.

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Revised 07.05.2012