Self-Neglect: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Self-neglect implies the inability or unwillingness to attend to one's personal needs or hygiene. It may manifest in different ways, such as not attending to one's nutrition, hygiene, clothing, or acting appropriately to care for medical conditions. Self-neglect can occur as a result of dementia, brain damage, or mental illnesses like depression or psychotic disorders. Some people who suffer from self-neglect may engage in unhealthy behaviors such as substance use or abuse, tobacco use, promiscuity, or inappropriate use of prescription medications. The list of conditions associated with self-neglect is very broad, and treatment options depend upon the precise cause of self-neglect. Antipsychotic and antidepressant medications are used when certain mental illnesses are the cause. Extreme self-neglect has been referred to as Diogenes syndrome.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/12/2017

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