How is Munchausen syndrome treated?

If you have this syndrome, you actively seek treatment for various disorders, and you’re also often unwilling to admit to and seek treatment for the syndrome itself. This makes treating this syndrome very challenging, and the outlook for recovery poor. If caretakers can protect you from self-harm and educate you about the consequences that can occur, it may be helpful. Trying to reduce your care through only one physician, or two working closely together (psychiatrist and internist, for example), is also suggested.

When treatment is sought, the first goal is to modify your behavior and reduce your misuse or overuse of medical resources. Once this goal is met, treatment aims to work out any underlying psychological issues that might be causing your behavior or help you find solutions to other social needs.

The primary treatment for Munchausen syndrome is psychotherapy (a type of counseling). Treatment will focus on changing your thinking and behavior (cognitive-behavioral therapy). Family therapy also might be helpful in teaching your family members more about Munchausen Syndrome. Group therapy may reduce feelings of isolation or feelings that no one cares for you. There are no antidepressant or antipsychotic medications known to be helpful.

What medicines may help with Munchausen syndrome?

There are no medicines to treat factitious disorders themselves. Medicine might be used, however, to treat a related disorder — such as depression or anxiety. The use of medicines must be carefully monitored due to the risk that the drugs might never be picked up from the pharmacy or might be used in a harmful way.

What are the complications of Munchausen syndrome?

You’re at risk for health problems (or even death) associated with hurting yourself or otherwise causing symptoms. In addition, you might suffer from reactions or health problems associated with multiple tests, procedures and treatments and are at high risk for substance abuse and suicide attempts.

How long does it take to recover from Munchausen syndrome?

Munchausen syndrome doesn’t have a clear cure. If you have the syndrome, it’s likely that you’ll have to manage it the rest of your life, with support from your healthcare providers.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/23/2020.

References

  • Merck Manual. Factitious Disorder Imposed on Self. Accessed 11/19/2020.
  • Jaghab K, Skodnek K, Padder TA. Munchausen’s syndrome and other factitious disorders in children. Psychiatry. 2006 Mar;3(3):46-55. Accessed 11/19/2020.
  • Yaacob BMJ. Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences. 1999 Jul;6(2):30-31. Accessed 11/19/2020.
  • NHS. Munchausen’s Syndrome. Accessed 11/19/2020.
  • Weber B, Gokarakonda SB, Doyle MQ. Munchausen Syndrome. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan. Accessed 11/19/2020.

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