MedicineNet - Self-Neglect

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Self-neglect implies the inability or unwillingness to attend to one's personal needs or hygiene. It may manifest in different ways, such as not attending to one's nutrition, hygiene, clothing, or acting appropriately to care for medical conditions. Self-neglect can occur as a result of dementia, brain damage, or mental illnesses like depression or psychotic disorders. Some people who suffer from self-neglect may engage in unhealthy behaviors such as substance use or abuse, tobacco use, promiscuity, or inappropriate use of prescription medications. The list of conditions associated with self-neglect is very broad, and treatment options depend upon the precise cause of self-neglect. Antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are used when certain mental illnesses are the cause. Extreme self-neglect has been referred to as Diogenes syndrome.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/9/2014

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Longo, Dan, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 18th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

Pavlou, M.P., and M.S. Lachs. "Self-neglect in Older Adults: a Primer for Clinicians." J Gen Intern Med 23.11 Nov. 2008: 1841-1846.

Terms related to Self-Neglect:

  • Diogenes Syndrome
  • Neglecting Oneself

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