Factitious Disorders: symptoms, causes and treatment
The factitious disorder it is a condition in which the patient, consciously and deliberately, acts as if he had a physical or mental illness when nothing really happens to him.
Patients with this disorder they create and exaggerate the symptoms of a disease in different ways . They can lie about their symptoms, hurt themselves as a way to create visible symptoms or alter medical tests (for example, a urine sample) so that they look sick.
In fact, they are able to go through painful tests or risky operations to get the sympathy of people who pay attention to individuals who are really sick.
They are usually people with emotional difficulties
This behavior is considered a disorder because is associated with serious emotional difficulties . But, in addition, people who suffer from this psychopathology often suffer other mental health problems, such as personality disorders.
That is, that these individuals they tend to have long-lasting patterns of thinking and behavior that differ from what society considers normal . In addition, they also often have poor coping skills and serious problems in relating to others.
Differential diagnosis between Factice Disorder and Somatoform Disorder
Factitious disorder is similar to another psychopathology that is called somatoform disorder, which also includes the presence of symptoms that have nothing to do with a real illness. However, People with somatoform disorder do not fake symptoms or cheat others , but think they have diseases that they really do not have.
Characteristics of a person with Factice Disorder
People with this disorder usually present these characteristics:
- Dramatic but inconsistent medical history
- Unclear symptoms that are not controllable and that become more severe or change once treatment has begun
- Predictable relapses after the improvement of the disease
- Presence of many scars
- The appearance of new or additional symptoms after the negative results of a medical or psychological test
- Presence of symptoms only when the patient is with others or is being observed
- I want to perform tests or operations
- Reluctance on the part of the patient to allow health professionals to talk with family members, friends and previous doctors
Types of Factitious Disorders
According to the different symptomatology, there are four types of fictitious disorders:
Factitious disorder with mostly psychological symptoms
Individuals with this psychopathology mimic the typical symptoms of schizophrenic disorder. Therefore, they tend to simulate confusion, make absurd statements and claim to have hallucinations or delusions; for example, listen to voices.
Factitious disorder with mostly physical symptoms
People with this disorder claim to have symptoms related to a physical illness, such as symptoms of chest pain, stomach problems or fever. This disorder is also known as Munchausen syndrome.
Factitious disorder with psychological and physical symptoms
People with this disorder say they have symptoms of both physical and mental illnesses.
Factitious disorder not specified
This type includes a disorder called tfactitious by proxy, also know as Munchausen syndrome by proxy. People with this disorder invent the symptoms of the disease in another person under their care. It occurs most often in mothers (although it can happen in parents) that intentionally harm their children in order to receive care.
Causes of Factice Disorder
The exact causes of this disorder are not known, but the researchers believe that it is due to biological and psychological factors .
Some theories claim that these patients have suffered abuse or lack of affection during childhood that can be associated with serious emotional problems, as well as a medical history that is characterized by the frequent presence of diseases that require hospitalization.
Studies suggest that this condition is more common in men than in women. In contrast, factitious disorder by proxy is more common in women.
Treatment of Factice Disorder
The most important goal of the treatment of this disorder is modify patient behavior and eliminate or reduce the misuse of medical resources . In the case of factitious disorder by proxy, the primary objective is the protection of any potential victim.
Once these objectives have been met, the next step is to understand the psychological reasons that are causing the patient's behavior.The treatment par excellence is psychotherapy, preferably cognitive-behavioral therapy. In this way we act on the patient's thinking and behavior.
Family therapy can also be useful so that family members do not reward the prejudicial behavior of the patient. In severe cases, antidepressant and anxiolytic drugs are given