Munchausen syndrome is considered to be a mental illness that causes people to repeatedly claim they have a physical or mental disorder, when in reality, there aren't any symptoms of the claimed disorder. Often, those with this syndrome will inflict pain or injury to their body to try to prove their disorder. Munchausen syndrome can range in severity and often go undiagnosed. Severe cases of the syndrome are often the cases that are diagnosed.
Symptoms of Munchausen syndrome can vary and range in severity. It's difficult to diagnose because patients lie about the symptoms they experience. Common symptoms include an inconsistent medical history, unclear symptoms that often change and predictable relapses. Many patients have an extensive knowledge of hospitals and medical terminology. It's common for those with this syndrome to have had multiple surgeries and are very willing to undergo medical tests and procedures.
Because Munchausen syndrome is difficult to diagnose, the first step is to ensure there isn't an underlying physical condition. After multiple diagnostic tools are used to determine a patient's physical and psychological health, a psychologist is then used. Psychologists are trained to recognize this form of mental illness.
Treatment for Munchausen syndrome involves seeking treatment for the disorder and not for the symptoms the patient claims to have. The patient must be willing to undergo proper treatment, which involves behavior modification, psychological treatment and a strong support system.
It's essential treatment is sought because it's not unlikely for a patient with this syndrome to cause severe injuries to their body or suffer complications from unnecessary medical procedures. Even with treatment, this is a chronic and long-term disorder, which is often very difficult to treat.