What Is the Cause of Cotard’s Syndrome?

Reviewed on 8/6/2020

What is Cotard’s syndrome?

The cause of Cotard's syndrome,  a neuropsychiatric condition, is unknown, but certain conditions are likely to cause it, including
The cause of Cotard’s syndrome, a neuropsychiatric condition, is unknown, but certain conditions are likely to cause it, including dementia, encephalopathy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, subdural bleeding, epilepsy, and migraine.

Cotard’s syndrome, also known as walking corpse syndrome, is a neuropsychiatric condition in which people develop false beliefs that their body parts are missing, or they are dying or they don’t exist. This condition is rare because only 200 known cases are present worldwide.

This condition typically exists in people with depression, schizophrenia, or other mental illnesses and is often associated with dementia (memory loss).

What are the symptoms of Cotard’s syndrome?

People with Cotard’s syndrome manifest the following symptoms:

  • Negation of the mind, brain, and intellect
  • Denial of pregnancy
  • Denial of the existence of various body parts
  • Denial of being alive
  • Denial of self-movement
  • Self-starvation
  • Less sociable
  • One of the symptoms is nihilism, in which a person believes that nothing has any value or meaning.

What is the cause of Cotard’s syndrome?

The exact cause of Cotard’s syndrome is unknown. There are certain conditions that more likely cause this syndrome:

Who is at the risk of getting Cotard’s syndrome?

People in their early 50s are at the risk of getting Cotard’s syndrome. People with the following conditions are at higher risk:

How is Cotard’s syndrome diagnosed?

Because Cotard’s syndrome is not a disease, it doesn’t have standardized diagnostic criteria. The physician may rule out other conditions to confirm the diagnosis of Cotard’s syndrome. The physician might ask about the symptoms or any risk factors.

How is Cotard’s syndrome treated?

The management of Cotard’s syndrome involves medication therapy and a form of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychotherapy.

These therapies can treat Cotard’s syndrome to a great extent.

Medications used to treat Cotard’s syndrome include the following:

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be the preferred choice of therapy in the case of failed medication and talk therapy. ECT therapy involves sending small currents through the brain. This alters the brain’s chemistry to relieve some of the symptoms.

Is Cotard’s syndrome curable?

Although the symptoms are severe, Cotard’s syndrome is curable with treatment. Generally, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) therapy is beneficial compared to medications in treating Cotard’s syndrome.

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