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Factitious Disorder

What is Factitious Disorder?

Factitious Disorder is believed to be a serious mental disorder in which an individual pretends to be sick, injured, or may exaggerate their symptoms to deceive others. Although the individual is aware that they are causing their symptoms or making them up, the do not know the reason as to why they are behaving the way that they are. Such individuals not only make up the symptoms, mimic or produce their illness or injury, but they can get to the point where they are tampering medical exams to be able to deceive those around them.

What are the symptoms of Factitious Disorder?

  • Inconsistent or vague symptoms
  • An individual may have an extensive knowledge of medical terms & diseases
  • Conditions appear to get worse without a logical reason
  • A condition does not respond to treatment as it should be
  • An individual may seek treatment from different doctors (individuals may even use different names)
  • An individual is hesitant or does not allow the doctor to talk to their loved ones
  • Individual has frequent stays at the hospital
  • An individual tends to have an eagerness to have frequent testing or surgery don
  • An individual has many surgical scars
  • There are few visitors when hospitalized
  • Individuals tend to argue with their physician

Individuals with Factitious Disorder often risk their lives in order for others to see them as sick. As a result, individuals may experience several complications such as injury, death, severe health problems from infection, unnecessary surgery, loss of organs when unnecessary surgery is performed, alcohol or drug abuse, and significant problems in daily life activities.

How do individuals fake their condition?

  • Exaggerate the existing symptoms
  • Make up stories
  • Fake the symptoms
  • They may harm themselves
  • Tamper & manipulate

What causes Factitious Disorder?

Although a precise cause is not known, stressful life experiences and other psychological factors are believed to play a role in the development of such disorder.

What can increase the likelihood of the development of Factitious Disorder?

  • Childhood trauma (i.e. physical, emotion, or sexual abuse)
  • Serious illness in childhood
  • Abandonment or death of loved one
  • Poor sense of identity
  • Personality disorders
  • Depression
  • Desire to associated with medical staff
  • Working in a health care field

How is Factitious Disorder treated?

Treatment for such disorder is often difficult because individuals want to be in a sick role and have little interest for treating such symptoms, injuries, or illnesses. However, the following treatment options may be used to manage the condition:

  • Having a primary care doctor
    • Having only one doctor may help reduce the number of visits to the doctor, which in turn helps manage the type of care that is needed.
  • Psychotherapy
    • May help an individual develop coping skills and ways to control their stress.
  • Medication
    • Can help treat other mental disorders such as depression or anxiety
  • Hospitalization

What can I do for myself to help cope with Factitious Disorder?

  • Stay consistent with your treatment plan
    • Attend therapies and take your medication
    • Be honest with your doctor
  • Have one primary doctor
    • Your condition will be easier to control and manage
  • Remember the risks
    • Remember that you can face a permanent injury for example, as a result of faking or causing symptoms
  • Resist from visiting new doctors (stick to ONE)
  • Connect with an individual that you are able to confide in, one who supports you