There are four main types of factitious disorders, including:
- Bizarre behavior
- Hearing unusual voices
- Experience of sensing things that are not there
- Ganser syndrome or prison psychosis (a condition characterized by short-term episodes of bizarre behavior similar to people with serious mental illness)
Factitious disorder with mostly physical symptoms: This condition is also known as Munchausen syndrome. People claim to have physical symptoms, such as:
Factitious disorder with both psychological and physical symptoms: People with this disorder manifest symptoms of both physical and mental illness.
Factitious disorder not otherwise specified or factitious disorder by proxy involves a parent claiming that their child or aged parent has psychological or physical symptoms that need medical attention.
What is a factitious disorder?
Factitious disorder is a psychological condition in which a person acts as if he or she has a physical or mental illness. In this condition, the person makes up symptoms or exaggerates the symptoms deliberately. They may even tamper with medical tests to convince others that treatment is needed. A factitious disorder comes under mental illnesses because they are mostly associated with severe emotional difficulties. People with a factitious disorder suffer from other mental conditions, especially personality disorders.
What are the symptoms of the factitious disorder?
The most common falsified symptoms and disease include:
- Abdominal pain
- Arthralgia (joint pain)
- Chest pain
- Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose level)
- Hematuria (blood in the urine)
- Skin wounds that do not heal
The potential warning signs of the factitious disorder include:
- Unclear or inconsistent symptoms
- Extensive knowledge about hospitals, medical terms, and illnesses
- Frequent hospital stays
- Conditions that don’t respond to standard treatment
- Conditions that may worsen following an improvement in the condition
- Presence of many surgical scars
- Refusal of a psychiatric or psychological evaluation
- Refusing the healthcare professionals to meet or talk with family members, friends, and previous healthcare providers
- The appearance of new symptoms following negative test results
- Eagerness to carry out medical tests, procedure, or operations
- Predicting negative medical outcomes despite no evidence
- Having a few visitors while hospitalized
- Arguing with hospital and medical staff
- Disrupting the discharge plans or exaggerating the symptoms while being discharged
- Presence of symptoms while being alone or when not being observed
- Remarkable but inconsistent medical history
Other common symptoms observed in factitious disorder include:
- Lying about or mimic a symptom
- Hurting themselves to produce symptoms
- Tampering medical tests, such as contaminating the urine sample
People with a factitious disorder find it hard to believe that they have this disorder.
What are the causes of the factitious disorder?
The exact cause of the factitious disorder is unknown; however, researchers believe that certain biological and psychological factors may play an important role in the development of this disorder. Factors associated with the development of factitious disorder include:
History of child abuse or neglect
How is factitious disorder treated?
The initial goal of treatment is to alter the person’s behavior and reduce their access to medical resources. Proper medical and psychiatric treatments are essential for preventing serious injury and even death.
Treatment options for factitious disorders include:
- Psychotherapy (a type of counseling)
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (changing the thinking and behavior of the individual with the disorder)
- Family therapy (a therapy that helps in teaching family members not to reward or reinforce the behavior of the person)
- Medications may be used to treat accompanying anxiety or depression
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