A person with factitious disorder is likely to first receive care for this condition when a health care provider raises concerns that psychological problems may be a factor in the illness. If your loved one has symptoms that suggest factitious disorder, his or her provider may contact you in advance to talk about your loved one's health history.
If you think a loved one may have factitious disorder, contact his or her provider and start the conversation yourself. Here's some information to help you get ready for that talk.
What you can do
To get prepared, make a note of:
- Your loved one's health history in as much detail as possible. Try to include as much as you can about the health complaints, diagnoses, medical treatments and procedures your loved one has had. If you have the names and contact information for the health care professionals or facilities that provided care, have those on hand.
- Any current behaviors or circumstances you observe that cause you to be concerned that your loved one may have factitious disorder.
- Key points from your loved one's personal history, including abuse or other trauma that occurred during childhood and any significant recent losses.
- Medications your loved one is currently taking, including supplements and over-the-counter and prescription drugs, and the dosages.
- Your questions for the health care provider so that you can make the most of your discussion.
For factitious disorder, some questions to ask the doctor include:
- What is likely causing my loved one's symptoms or condition?
- Are there other possible causes?
- How will you determine the diagnosis?
- Is this condition likely temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are recommended for this disorder?
- How much do you expect treatment could improve the symptoms?
- How will you monitor my loved one's well-being over time?
- Do you think family therapy will be helpful in this case?
- What next steps should we take?
What to expect from the doctor
The doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
May. 02, 2014
- What injuries or illnesses has your loved one recently complained of?
- What injuries or illnesses has he or she been treated for in the past?
- Has your loved one been diagnosed with any specific medical problem?
- What treatments has he or she had, including drugs and surgery?
- How often has your loved one changed doctors or hospitals in the past?
- Have any medical care providers, friends or family had concerns that your loved one may be causing or contributing to his or her illness?
- How have your loved one's symptoms affected his or her career and personal relationships?
- Do you know if he or she ever had a self-inflicted injury or attempted suicide?
- Do you know if your loved one was abused or neglected as a child?
- Did he or she suffer any other trauma, such as a serious illness or loss of a parent, during childhood?
- What else makes you suspect that your loved one may have factitious disorder?
- Have you talked to your loved one about your concerns?
- Factitious disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Jan. 10, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Nov. 8, 2013.
- Lipsitt DR. Factitious disorder and Munchausen syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 10, 2014.
- Flaherty EG, et al. Caregiver-fabricated illness in a child: A manifestation of child maltreatment. Pediatrics. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/08/20/peds.2013-2045. Accessed Jan. 19, 2014.
- Munchausen syndrome. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/psychiatric_disorders/somatoform_and_factitious_disorders/munchausen_syndrome.html. Accessed Jan. 19, 2014.
- Bright RP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Ariz. Feb. 16, 2014.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 20, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.