Factitious Disorder-Symptoms, Causes, Treatment


Factitious disorder, abbreviated as FD, is a physical condition wherein an individual acts or behaves as he/ she is suffering from illness. This he does by deliberately developing, pretending or exaggerating symptoms of any disease or disorder.  On the other hand factitious disorder by proxy is a state wherein the person premeditatedly; pretends, develops or overstates the symptoms in individual who is in their care. Munchausen syndrome is an obsolete term used to refer to the former disorder. People with affliction of this condition may exaggerate the influence of the disease by manipulating urine sample by contaminating it, using hallucinogens, intravenously using bacteria to develop infection and other such techniques. An individual may perpetrate factitious disorder by proxy or as a patient in order to gain certain benefits such as leniency, attention grabbing etc which cannot be obtained in other ways.

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Causes of Factitious Disorder

There are numerous possible factors that may lead to factitious disorder. One of such factors is the fundamental personality disorder. In some cases that FD affected individual may try to repeat a gratifying childhood experienced with a doctor. Possibly such as individuals may also desire to mislead or assess the authority figures. This may be a physiological state wherein the individual desires to be patient and undergo supportive care and comfort. Abandonment and negligence may also serve as a factor that may lead to FD.

There are situations wherein an individual may rebuild unresolved problems with their parents or other family members. A medical history of physical abnormalities may also add to the progression of this unusual behavior. Possibly the affected individuals who is with prevalence of FD is accustomed to be sick and this is why he or she may pretend to be sick to get back to the ill state which was once norm for him or her.

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Symptoms of factitious disorder

• The medical history of the individual is unclear and has traits that impresses the listener

• The affected individuals may state about symptoms that may not fit in any certain disease or disorder. These symptoms may change or are not certain under diagnosis

• There are possibilities that the patient may have significant knowledge of medical terminologies, diseases and symptoms etc and he / she may use these terminologies to express his condition which may impress the listeners including health experts

• The patient may also be keen to undergo tests or treatments which are uncomfortable or painful

• The patient may compliant about new symptoms (dissimilar from what explained earlier) when the results for tests are clear (negative).

• The patient keeps coming back for treatment despite of noticeable improvement

Treatments for Factitious disorder:

There are no certain psychiatric medicines that are efficacious in assuredly eradicating FD. However, SSRIs or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors may help in managing underlying problems.  SSRIs are medicines used to manage mood swings and can also be used to treat FD, as mood may be a reason causing FD. Support from family may also be a helpful aid in treating Factious disorder. It should be known that this condition may prove to be serious in some cases, hence; one should ensure psychiatrist assistance to treat factitious disorder.

Factitious Disorder vs Malingering

Factitious disorder is different from malingering.  The person who has factitious disorder wishes primarily to attract attention, get sympathy etc by feigning sickness.  For a person who is into malingering, the objective is to get gains like professional gains, avoid unpleasant scenarios like feigning illness just to avoid military duty etc.   Factitious disorder is considered a mental disorder while malingering is not so.

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