What is Factitious Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

Some people fake sickness in order to take advantage of others. Today, we’ll discuss what is factitious disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment.

What is Factitious Disorder? 

Factitious disorder is a severe mental health condition when a person exhibits the symptoms of exaggerated and manufactured mental or physical illness. In other words, you can say it is fake sickness.

Many people act “faked sickness” occasionally from time to time. They do so in order to take a day off from the work, leave the tough exam, avoiding something or someone when they have to do something else.

Factitious disorder is when faking illness doesn’t offer you any benefits and advantages. Many mental health professionals think that the FD condition is relevant to the desire of attracting the affection and attention of others. It has got the association of feeling good by receiving care from others. FD condition could a coping mechanism to deal with the difficulties and stress of your routine life.

Types of Factitious Disorder

The DSM-5 (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorder, fifth edition) has categorized FD conditions into two types;

  • Factitious Disorder on Yourself: it is when you make yourself ill or injured and present yourself as sick
  • Factitious Disorder on Others: it is when you present your loved one, pet, or child as injured and sick, and sometimes you intentionally make them sick

Faking sickness and exhibiting fake symptoms of mental or physical health would help them to earn the sympathies and attention of others in the short term. The FD would eventually influence your emotional and physical health; it would result in the form of you abusing your partner, family member, and child sick for your satisfaction.

Symptoms of Factitious Disorder 

Some of the main symptoms of factitious disorders are as follows;

  • Changing and altering the medical record or tests
  • Exaggerating your small health symptoms frequently
  • Reporting your mental health or physical injury when it doesn’t exist in reality

The person with FD condition would describe or exhibit the following symptoms when they aren’t there;

  • Having severe neck or back pain
  • Feeling dizzy when you have got a blurred vision
  • Suicidal thoughts, depression, or feeling down

The person with FD condition would possible do;

  • Making appointments with doctors frequently for the treatment and tests when you have got none
  • Telling your friends, colleagues, and loved ones about your fake symptoms
  • Sharing your fake symptoms anonymously in the online support group

People with FD condition would intentionally develop real symptoms by doing these;

  • Not letting the surgical area or the injury heal
  • Contacting such things that would cause the allergic reactions
  • Exposing your cut to unsanitary material, feces, or dirt in order to make it infected
  • Taking medicines to start vomiting or have diarrhea
  • Swallowing toxic chemicals and uncleaned products

A study in 2014 showed that people with FD conditions don’t have control over their behavior when they exhibit fake symptoms. That’s why many psychologists consider it a mental health condition.

  • Giving your family member or partner something that they can’t tolerate or are allergic to like diabetes, sugar, or gluten
  • Telling your friends and family members about suicidal thoughts, self-harm, anxiety, or teen depression; when teenagers don’t exhibit such symptoms
  • Taking your child to the doctor and manufacturing fake symptoms

When you intentionally make someone sick, then it falls under the category of abuse. It could make them severely ill or lead them to death.

Causes of Factitious Disorder 

Researchers don’t know the exact and precise causes of factitious disorder. Usually, it’s because it’s very difficult to recognize the FD condition; people with this condition don’t speak about their minds. According to DSM-5, approximately 1% of the people with FD condition receive hospital care. Some of the possible causes of the factitious disorder are as follows;

Brain Development

Researchers have been studying the developmental differences and brain chemistry among people with FD conditions. Some evidence point to the fact that there is a connection and link between brain development difference and the factitious disorder.

Childhood Abuse or Trauma

A study in 2014 showed that a great many people reported having experienced abuse in childhood among the people that are getting online support. Some evidence from the 2006 studies showed that lower self-image and guilty feelings are the main factors of developing this condition.

Serious Childhood Issues

The person has experienced any of the major illnesses in one’s childhood and it may have put them in the hospital. They would develop the factitious condition while growing up to play with.

Treatment of Factitious Disorder 

Emotional distress may cause the development of a factitious disorder. Many mental health professionals suggest that CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) could be the right treatment for this condition. Instead of confronting the person with FD condition and challenging them about their fake symptoms; the focus of psychologists or therapists is to develop a trusting therapeutic relationship with the patient.

Therapists offer them emotional support and recognize their loneliness feelings; instead of judging, shaming, accusing, or questioning their fake symptoms. It’s because it’s not wrong to desire the attention of your loved ones and family members when they have been avoiding you and not meeting your needs. However, the way they use to attract their attention is wrong. The therapy comprises of following steps;

  • Addressing the underlying mental condition
  • Offering helpful emotional support
  • Checklist of self-care
  • Teaching them new methods to deal with stress
  • Offering support for the past trauma

Conclusion: What is Factitious Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is factitious disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that an FD condition could harm a person’s mental and physical health. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist and share out your feelings.