Munchausen Syndrome (cont.)
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Munchausen syndrome facts
- What is Munchausen syndrome?
- What causes Munchausen syndrome?
- What are Munchausen syndrome symptoms and signs?
- How is Munchausen syndrome diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for Munchausen syndrome?
- What is the prognosis for Munchausen syndrome?
- Can Munchausen syndrome be prevented?
- Where can people get more information about Munchausen syndrome?
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
What is the treatment for Munchausen syndrome?
Due to the chronic nature of the illness, as well as the tendency of sufferers to flee treatment, the treatment of Munchausen syndrome can be difficult. No single approach is consistently effective in managing this illness. Confronting victims of Munchausen syndrome does not seem to be an effective part of treatment of this illness. Rather, the sufferer is at even higher risk of prematurely ending medical care in response to being confronted, only to resume getting unnecessary tests and treatments from a new care provider. Therefore, maintaining the delicate balance between providing the sufferer of Munchausen syndrome with empathetic professional support with prevention of their receiving further unnecessary tests and procedures is key to caring from victims of this disorder. Specifically, showing empathy for the difficulties of what led to the development of the disorder while encouraging the victim to adapt new ways of managing their feelings are important aspects of addressing Munchausen syndrome. In addition to trying to develop and maintain a supportive relationship with the individual with this illness, many health care professionals will keep in close contact with the family of the sufferer in order to educate family members about the victim's behaviors and need for attention. The health care professional may also greatly assist in the person's recovery by maintaining frequent communication with other health care professionals as a means of educating those providers about this diagnosis and preventing the perpetuation of unnecessary tests and procedures.
What is the prognosis for Munchausen syndrome?
Munchausen syndrome can have significantly negative effects on the lives of individual sufferers and on the community at large. It is estimated that this disorder results in about $40 million per year in unnecessary tests and other medical resources. The chronic nature as well as the tendency to be at odds with the medical community puts individuals with this illness at risk of multiple recurrences of symptoms. Of related note is the associated high completed suicides at a rate of 30%-70%. Males tend to have worse outcomes than females.
People with Munchausen syndrome who have no other psychiatric diagnosis seem to have a better chance of full recovery than those who also suffer from another mental illness. However, when a person with another psychiatric disorder gets treatment for that problem, their symptoms of Munchausen syndrome often improve as well.
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