Factitious Disorders (cont.)

What Are the Symptoms of Factitious Disorders?

Possible warning signs of factitious disorders include:

  • Dramatic but inconsistent medical history
  • Unclear symptoms that are not controllable and that become more severe or change once treatment has begun
  • Predictable relapses following improvement in the condition
  • Extensive knowledge of hospitals and/or medical terminology, as well as the textbook descriptions of illness
  • Presence of many surgical scars
  • Appearance of new or additional symptoms following negative test results
  • Presence of symptoms only when the patient is with others or being observed
  • Willingness or eagerness to have medical tests, operations, or other procedures
  • History of seeking treatment at many hospitals, clinics, and doctors offices, possibly even in different cities
  • Reluctance by the patient to allow health care professionals to meet with or talk to family members, friends, and prior doctors

What Causes Factitious Disorders?

The exact cause of factitious disorders is not known, but researchers are looking at the roles of biological and psychological factors in the development of these disorders. Some theories suggest that a history of abuse or neglect as a child, or a history of frequent illnesses that required hospitalization might be factors in the development of the disorder.

How Common Are Factitious Disorders?

There are no reliable statistics regarding the number of people in the U.S. who suffer from factitious disorders. Obtaining accurate statistics is difficult because dishonesty is common with this condition. In addition, people with factitious disorders tend to seek treatment at many different health care facilities, which can lead to statistics that are misleading.

In general, factitious disorders are more common in men than in women. However, factitious disorder by proxy tends to be more common in women than in men.

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