Treating Munchausen's syndrome can be difficult.
People with Munchausen's syndrome may be aware of the risk of injury or even death as a result of their behaviour. But they cannot control their behaviours and are unlikely to look for help.
If you think a person may be exaggerating or faking health problems, it can help to:
- have a gentle conversation with them about your worries
- offer support in a caring way
- offer help to find treatment
Avoid being angry or making accusations. If the person is approached in a non-judgemental way, they may be more willing to get treatment.
Psychiatric treatment and CBT
There's no standard treatment for Munchausen's syndrome. But a combination of psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may control symptoms.
Psychoanalysis is a type of psychotherapy that attempts to uncover and resolve unconscious beliefs and motivations.
CBT helps you manage your problems by thinking more positively. It can help you recognise and change unhelpful patterns of behaviour.
Learn more about talking therapies
People with Munchausen's syndrome still in close contact with their family may also benefit from having family therapy.
The person with the syndrome and their close family members discuss:
- how it's affected the family
- the positive changes that can be made
It can also teach family members how to avoid reinforcing the person's behaviour. For example, this could involve recognising when the person is playing the 'sick role' and avoiding showing them concern or offering support.
Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE