Factitious Disorders (cont.)
In this Article
How Are Factitious Disorders Diagnosed?
Diagnosing factitious disorders is very difficult because of, again, the dishonesty that is involved. Doctors must rule out other possible physical and mental illnesses before a diagnosis of factitious disorder can be considered.
If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she may refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for a factitious disorder. The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on the exclusion of actual physical or mental illness, and his or her observation of the person's attitude and behavior.
How Are Factitious Disorders Treated?
The first goal of treatment for a factitious disorder is to modify the person's behavior and reduce his or her misuse or overuse of medical resources. In the case of factitious disorder by proxy, the main goal is to ensure the safety and protection of any real or potential victims. Once the initial goal is met, treatment aims to work out any underlying psychological issues that may be causing the person's behavior.
The primary treatment for factitious disorders is psychotherapy (a type of counseling). Treatment likely will focus on changing the thinking and behavior of the individual with the disorder (cognitive-behavioral therapy). Family therapy may also be helpful in teaching family members not to reward or reinforce the behavior of the person with the disorder.
There are no medications to treat factitious disorders themselves. Medication may be used, however, to treat any related disorder -- such as depression, anxiety, or a personality disorder. The use of medications must be carefully monitored in people with factitious disorders due to the risk that the drugs may be used in a harmful way.