Cotard syndrome: what it is and how to treat the disease that makes you believe you are dead
Cotard syndrome is a very rare psychiatric pathology characterized by the belief that one is dead. Let's find out what it depends on and what the treatments are.
When it comes to psychiatric illness, the possibilities are truly endless. And often, tracing the certain cause is not as easy as one would like. An example is given by Cotard's syndrome of which relatively little is still known and which, although rare, deserves all possible attention.
In fact, those who suffer from this pathology have the belief that they are dead. Which inevitably lowers the quality of life itself which, therefore, loses all possible meaning.
But what causes Cotard syndrome? Here's everything you need to know.
Cotard syndrome: what it is and how it manifests itself
Cotard's syndrome is to all intents and purposes a psychiatric disease that leads those who suffer from it to believe they are dead or devoid of all vital organs. In other words, sufferers of this syndrome are convinced that they do not exist and for this reason they completely lose the sense of reality.
This leads to lack of self-care, suicidal delusions and other rather serious problems. Also known as dead man's syndrome, Cotard's disease takes its name from the neurologist who discovered it and his name was Jules Cotard. As this is an extremely rare disease, there are very few studies on it. To date, in fact, about one hundred cases connected to other forms of psychiatric illness or brain alterations have been diagnosed.
The causes of Corard's syndrome
Although the origins of this disease are not yet clear. At the moment, the most accredited theory is that of a dysfunction on the part of the brain which would lead to a different perception of sensations and emotions. Which would therefore lead to the denial of oneself, of some parts of one's body and of life itself.
In fact, those with this syndrome no longer feel any kind of emotion. Which "rationally" is translated into the belief of being dead. Among the most hypothesized physical causes are brain injuries or atrophies , head trauma or tumor formations. For this reason, one of the most frequently performed exams is the CAT scan.
Examination that has demonstrated several times that those suffering from this syndrome have a brain function similar to that which occurs during sleep or under anesthesia. In some cases analogies with patients in vegetative coma have been noted.
Symptoms and treatment of Cotard syndrome
It is established that those suffering from this syndrome do not feel emotions of any kind and that, therefore, they believe they are dead. In most cases (although these are very few) subjects with Cotard syndrome also show other symptoms.
Among these are anxiety , melancholy, self-harm , delusion, hallucinations, aggression, lack of sense of reality, depression , and depersonalization. The condition is therefore among the most serious and requires immediate medical intervention.
As for the treatments, these are established on the basis of the patient's anamnesis and the seriousness of the situation. Before establishing a therapy, therefore, the doctor will have to talk carefully with the patient and, if possible, with his family.
Once this is done, it is possible to intervene with psychotherapy sessions which, in most cases, are associated with the intake of antidepressants and antipsychotics.
In the most extreme cases , electroconvulsive therapy may be necessary, useful for re-establishing a connection between the nerve fibers linked to emotional responses and sensory stimuli.
The outcome of the treatments obviously depends on several factors. In some cases, however, the patient can return to a sense of reality and to a life as normal as possible. Having said that, the doctor will have to reevaluate the condition often in order to recognize in time any worsening of the situation.
In some cases, i.e. those in which the problem is due to the formation of masses, the cure consists in their removal. Which can lead to the correct restoration of brain function and the return of stimuli capable of demonstrating to the patient that he is alive.
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