Treatment of factitious disorder is often difficult, and there are no standard therapies. Because people with factitious disorder want to be in the sick role, they're often unwilling to seek treatment for the disorder. However, if approached in a gentle, non-judgmental way, a person with factitious disorder may agree to be treated by a mental health provider.
Direct accusations of factitious disorder may make the affected person angry and defensive, causing him or her to abruptly end a relationship with a health care provider or hospital and seek treatment elsewhere. So the health care provider may try to create an "out" that spares your loved one the humiliation of admitting to faking symptoms.
For example, the health care provider may reassure your loved one that not having an explanation for medical symptoms is stressful and suggest that the stress may, in fact, be responsible for some physical complaints. Or, the provider may ask your loved one to agree that, if the next one or two medical treatments don't work, they'll explore together the idea that there may be a psychological cause for the illness. Either way, the provider will try to steer your loved one toward care with a mental health provider.
Treatment often focuses on managing the condition, rather than trying to cure it. Treatment generally includes talk therapy (psychotherapy) and behavior counseling. If possible, family therapy also may be suggested.
Medications may be used to treat other mental disorders that also are present, such as depression or anxiety. In severe cases, temporary psychiatric hospitalization may be necessary.
May 02, 2014
- 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.
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