Monthly Archives - May 2019

Paraphrenia: What You Need to Know

    Paraphrenia is a psychotic disorder which is similar to schizophrenia but not as severe as the latter in terms of personality deterioration. The onset of the disorder is during the last stages of life, so it is generally found among the elderly.     In the late 1890s, medical expert Emil Kraepelin used the terminology 'paraphrenia' to define a group of patients who were exhibiting mild symptoms of schizophrenia.     Today, medical practitioners define delusional disorder with hallucinations as paraphrenia. The condition is also one of the signs of the onset of dementia in a person. Such people experience hallucinations and may talk about things that are not happening. For example, an individual may talk about experiencing police surveillance with no evidence to back the claim.     Unlike schizophrenia, this condition is less hereditary and progresses slowly. It is also observed that people who are overly-sensitive are susceptible to having the condition.    

The Causes of the Disorder

  There can be the following two causes for the occurrence of paraphrenia:    

1. Neurological

  Any physical changes in the brain, particularly caused due to stroke, tumor or neurodegenerative process, can result in paraphrenia.    

2. Predisposing Factors

  Factors like any sensory impairment (hearing or visual), a lack of social contacts or strained relationships may not necessarily be a cause of the disorder. But their pre-existence in a person makes him or her more likely to have paraphrenia.    

Symptoms

  For a long time, paraphrenia was often misdiagnosed as the late-onset of schizophrenia. While the disease may be similar to this psychotic disorder, it has usually adopted the positive traits of that disorder.     The health of the person with the condition doesn't deteriorate at a fast pace. The only similarity that the two disorders may have with respect to each other is that they cause hallucinations and delusions in patients.     What makes this condition difficult to be diagnosed is the fact that a patient doesn't show significant changes in habits or personality or even intellect. They are also well-oriented and well-aware of the time and their surroundings.  They can, however, be paranoid in normal settings; have the fear of being followed or spied upon.    

Treatment

  Even though it is rare, the disorder can also be temporary in nature, allowing the patient to recover fully.  In most cases, however, mostly because of the older age of patients, the disease remains with the patient for a long-term and is managed through proper medication. The treatment is simple and requires antipsychotic medications which have to be taken regularly.      
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Munchausen’s Syndrome

   Munchausen’s Syndrome, also known as factitious disorder imposed on self, is a mental illness. A person diagnosed with Munchausen’s Syndrome repeatedly acts as if they have a physical, emotional, or cognitive disorder when the opposite is true. The person with Munchausen’s Syndrome is the one causing the symptoms.  

Why and How Do They Cause the Symptoms?

  People cause the symptoms of a physical, emotional, and cognitive disorder because of an inner desire to have others see them as ill or injured. However, they do not act this way for any financial gain or any other concrete benefit involved. To get sympathy and special attention and care from others, they are willing to endure painful, intensive, or risky operations and tests.     Some even go as far as injuring themselves to draw blood such as having blood in the urine or cyanosis of a limb where they cut the blood supply off to a certain part of the body, causing the skin to turn a shade a blue. Therefore, a person suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome is dealing with severe emotional distress. Munchausen’s Syndrome can occur in children, but young adults are more likely to develop it.  

What Are the Symptoms of Munchausen’s Syndrome?

  The symptoms of Munchausen’s Syndrome include:  
  • Dramatic, but varying medical history
  • Unclear symptoms that are not controllable and that become more severe or change once treatment has begun
  • Expected relapses following improvement in the condition
  • Extensive knowledge of hospitals and/or medical terms along with textbook descriptions of diseases and illnesses
  • Presence of several scars due to surgery
  • Developing of new or more symptoms following negative test results
  • Symptoms appear only when the patient is alone or is not under observation
  • Willingness or eagerness to have operations, medical tests, or other procedures
  • History of seeking treatment at several clinics hospitals, and doctors' offices, perhaps located in a different city than theirs
  • Unwillingness by the patient to allow medical professionals to meet with or talk to family, friends, or previous medical professionals
  • Issues with identity and self-esteem
  • More comfortable staying in the hospital than others
  • Extensive medical knowledge from many hospitalizations or previous work
 

What Causes Munchausen’s Syndrome?

  Even though researchers have not been able to determine the exact cause behind Munchausen’s Syndrome, they think that both psychological and biological factors may have a part in the development of this. Some researchers have even theorized that a history of neglect and abuse as a child or a history of falling ill and being hospitalized may be responsible for its developments. Researchers are also trying to find links of Munchausen’s Syndrome with personality disorders, which people with this syndrome commonly suffer from.    
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