"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Munchausen syndrome (factitious disorder)

Munchausen syndrome is a factitious disorder, a mental disorder through which an individual repeatedly and intentionally acts as in the event that they are physically or mentally in poor health, despite the fact that they should not really in poor health. Munchausen syndrome is taken into account a mental illness since it involves severe emotional difficulties.

Munchausen syndrome, named after Baron von Munchausen, an 18th-century German officer who was known for embellishing the stories of his life and experiences, is probably the most severe type of factitious disorder. Most symptoms in individuals with Munchausen syndrome are related to physical illnesses – symptoms similar to chest pain, stomach discomfort or fever – somewhat than to those of a psychological disorder.

NOTE: Although Munchausen syndrome normally refers to a factitious disorder with primarily physical symptoms, the term can be sometimes used to confer with factitious disorders more generally. In this text, Munchausen syndrome refers to a style of factitious disorder with predominantly physical symptoms.

People with Munchausen syndrome intentionally create or exaggerate symptoms in various ways. They may lie about or fake symptoms, harm themselves to cause symptoms, or alter tests (similar to contaminating a urine sample). Possible warning signs of Munchausen syndrome include:

  • Dramatic but inconsistent medical history
  • Unclear, uncontrollable symptoms that turn out to be more severe or change after starting treatment
  • Predictable relapses after the condition improves
  • Extensive knowledge of hospital and/or medical terminology and textbook descriptions of illnesses
  • Presence of multiple surgical scars
  • Occurrence of recent or additional symptoms after negative test results
  • Symptoms only occur when the patient is with others or is being observed
  • Willingness or readiness to undergo medical tests, surgeries, or other procedures
  • In the past he has been treated in quite a few hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices, possibly even in numerous cities
  • Patient's reluctance to permit physicians to satisfy or speak with family, friends, or previous physicians
  • Issues with identity and self-esteem

The exact explanation for Munchausen syndrome shouldn’t be known, but researchers are studying the role of biological and psychological aspects in its development. Some theories suggest that a history of abuse or neglect as a toddler or a history of common illnesses that required hospitalization may very well be aspects in the event of the syndrome. Researchers are also investigating a possible link to personality disorders, that are common in individuals with Munchausen syndrome.

There are not any reliable statistics on the number of individuals within the United States who are suffering from Munchausen syndrome, but it surely is taken into account a rare condition. It is difficult to acquire accurate statistics because dishonesty is common on this disease. Additionally, individuals with Munchausen syndrome are inclined to seek treatment at many alternative healthcare facilities, which might result in misleading statistics.

In general, Munchausen syndrome is more common in men than women. While it may well occur in children, it mostly affects young adults.

Diagnosing Munchausen syndrome may be very difficult as a result of the dishonesty involved. Before a diagnosis of Munchausen syndrome will be considered, doctors must rule out possible physical and mental illnesses.

If the doctor cannot discover a physical reason for the symptoms, or if the pattern of physical symptoms someone describes suggests that the symptoms could also be self-inflicted, the doctor will likely refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, specifically trained professionals for mental health to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to screen an individual for Munchausen syndrome. The doctor bases his diagnosis on the exclusion of actual physical or mental illness and statement of the patient's attitude and behavior.

Although an individual with Munchausen syndrome actively seeks treatment for the varied disorders she or he has invented, the person is usually unwilling to confess the syndrome itself and seek treatment for it. This makes treating individuals with Munchausen syndrome very difficult and the prospects for recovery poor.

When in search of treatment, the primary goal is to vary the person's behavior and reduce misuse or overuse of medical resources. Once this goal is achieved, treatment goals to deal with any underlying psychological issues which may be causing the person's behavior. Another essential goal is to assist patients avoid dangerous and unnecessary medical diagnostic or treatment procedures (e.g., surgeries), which are sometimes resorted to by different doctors who might not be aware that physical symptoms are either being faked or are self-inflicted.

As with other factitious disorders, the first treatment for Munchausen syndrome is psychotherapy or talk therapy (a type of counseling). Treatment typically focuses on changing the person's pondering and behavior (cognitive behavioral therapy). Family therapy can be helpful in teaching relations to not reward or reinforce the behavior of the person with the disorder.

There are not any medications to self-treat factitious disorders. However, medications will be used to treat any associated illness, similar to depression or anxiety. Medication use should be rigorously monitored in individuals with factitious disorders due to the risk of harmful use of the medication.

People with Munchausen syndrome are prone to health problems (and even death) in the event that they injure themselves or otherwise cause symptoms. In addition, they could suffer from reactions or health problems related to multiple tests, procedures and coverings. and are at high risk for substance abuse and suicide attempts

Because many individuals with factitious disorders deny that they’re faking or causing their symptoms and don’t seek or follow treatment, recovery is dependent upon a health care provider or member of the family recognizing or suspecting the illness within the person and inspiring them to achieve this encouraged to receive appropriate medical care Disorder and sticking to it.

Some individuals with Munchausen syndrome experience one or two short episodes of symptoms. However, generally it’s a chronic or long-term condition that will be very difficult to treat.

There isn’t any known technique to prevent Munchausen syndrome.