When Mental Disorders Clash With Medical Conditions: Delusion or Pseudocyesis?
I was reading an article and came across a blog post that discussed what isn’t necessarily a psychiatric disorder, yet has features similar to delusions. It can get very complicated when psychiatric illnesses clash with medical illnesses. Symptoms coincide so much that both mental health professionals and medical doctors often have to consult before making a diagnosis.
Pseudo-cyesis, or “false pregnancy,” is currently defined as a rare medical condition in which an individual (a woman) has similar symptoms to that of an expectant mother such as:
- Weight gain
- Physically feeling as if one is carrying a baby (fetal movements or “kicking”)
- Nausea and vomiting (“morning sickness”)
- Enlarged breasts, physical changes to the breasts, and milk secretion (in some cases)
- Interruption of the menstrual cycle
Symptoms can last as long as 9 months or a few days to a few weeks. Symptoms can also vary by individual and possibly by the level of intense desire to have a baby. Some patients will actually go to the emergency room with what feels to them to be labor pains.
Why is this important to families, caregivers, and friends? Remember when we discussed the thin line between medical conditions and psychiatric conditions?
Much too often do healthcare providers become confused by complex emotional symptoms and misdiagnose or misinform. Many families are sent away with “do it yourself” home instructions to care for a loved one and left to figure out the puzzle on their own. It is ultimately your responsibility to seek treatment and the correct diagnosis.
Unfortunately, because we are human and susceptible to mistakes, it might take multiple diagnoses before the correct one is found. Delusions, as discussed in previous articles, are false beliefs held to be true despite evidence to the contrary. But pseudo-cyesis is currently said to be different from a delusion because there are physiological symptoms. However, pseudo-cyesis is a representation of a woman’s emotional and psychological needs and potential instability.
It is important that families, caregivers, and even friends keep a close eye on their loved ones. There are so many reasons for why we miss when individuals are emotionally or psychiatrically impaired. But we cannot continue to do this, their health depends on our awareness of their needs.
If you’d like to read more about Pseudo-cyesis, check out WebMD.
All the best to you
Hill, T. (2013). When Mental Disorders Clash With Medical Conditions: Delusion or Pseudocyesis?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 10, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2013/04/when-mental-disorders-clash-with-medical-conditions-delusion-or-pseudocyesis/