Diogenes Syndrome (Accumulators): Causes, Symptoms, Treatmen

People with Diogenous Syndrome often show severe self-neglect, social isolation, hoarding, and can live in unsanitary conditions.

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Since Diogenes Syndrome is usually linked to other conditions and is not fully understood , it is not listed as a psychiatric illness in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) .

Content of this article:

  1. What is Diogenes Syndrome?
  2. Signs and symptoms of Diogenes Syndrome
  3. Treatment of Diogenes syndrome

Read also:  Diogenes of Synope: 7 crazy stories about the greatest Troll in Philosophy

What is Diogenes syndrome?

Diogenes syndrome is typically seen as a behavioral disorder in the elderly, but it can affect men and women of any age and socioeconomic status.

However, Diogenes syndrome is more common among people with above average intelligence , over the age of 60, and who live alone.

About 0.05 percent of Americans aged 60 and over may have Diogenes syndrome. It is considered rare, but there is a lack of research on its prevalence.

There are two forms of Diogenes syndrome: primary and secondary .

In primary cases, the syndrome is not triggered by other medical conditions that an individual already has. In secondary cases, the syndrome is the result of other mental health disorders.

The Diogenes syndrome  is also known as senile or severe social breakdown syndrome , of self-neglect syndrome, senile shortage syndrome and syndrome dirty house .

Signs and symptoms of Diogenes syndrome

The symptoms of the condition vary, but there are a number of common features that may be present.

These include:

  • Insufficiency or insufficient understanding of self-hygiene, public health or safety
  • Mistrust of society or strangers
  • Paranoia or general distrust
  • Detachment
  • Extreme social anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Trends (Read:  15 Signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) )
  • Excessive accumulation or collection of household items and waste
  • Unhealthy or unsafe living conditions
  • Malnutrition
  • Unwillingness to accept outside help or intervention
  • Fear or distrust of medical professionals
  • Hostility and aggression towards others
  • A distorted concept of reality
  • Skin problems due to dirt, such as passive dermatitis

The signs and symptoms of Diogenes syndrome are often difficult to distinguish from those of other medical conditions, such as:

  • Silogomania (hoarding)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Mania (Read also: Obsession List with more than 120 Manias)
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Depression
  • Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder
  • Alcoholism

Research is still being done to improve understanding of Diogenes syndrome.

Most of what is known about the condition is based on psychological case studies. Some sources estimate that at least half of all cases occur in patients without mental health disorders previously.

When not associated with another medical condition, Diogenes syndrome can be caused by a traumatic or stressful event , such as the death of a loved one.

During such periods, daily activities such as personal care tend to be interrupted or neglected. The lack of self-care, extreme social isolation and neglect tend to mark the differences between Diogenes syndrome of silogomania .

As little specific research is available, the health, social and mental complications related to Diogenes syndrome are poorly understood.

However, the syndrome is thought to increase the likelihood of death.

Treatment of Diogenes syndrome

There is no formal diagnosis or treatment plan for Diogenes syndrome .

Some studies recommend compiling the patient’s complete medical and psychological history and conducting a physical examination, blood tests and organ function tests to develop a basic line of health.

Some doctors may also do neuroimaging tests to rule out the presence of other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. Conducting personality assessments can shed light on the  cause of Diogenes syndrome .

Currently, there are no medications or therapy options recognized or recommended specifically for the management of Diogenes syndrome. Medicines designed or prescribed to treat other medical conditions can help relieve symptoms, such as paranoia or mania.

Psychological factors must also be taken into account, as they often lead to the development or continuation of the syndrome. Psychotherapy  is sometimes necessary.

These treatments work best alongside other support systems designed to address the underlying cause of the syndrome. For example, cleaning and personal care services can help to lessen the severity of symptoms.

Since people with Diogenes syndrome are often afraid of medical facilities, treatment is often carried out by home health professionals or community workers. Ethical and legal issues can complicate treatment, as patients may persist in refusing medical intervention.

Since views on issues such as self-hygiene and safety vary between people and cultures, many of the symptoms of Diogenes syndrome  can also be difficult to assess and treat objectively.

The cases of Diogenes syndrome must be treated with extreme sensitivity by all involved. If a patient feels attacked, judged or insecure as a result of the intervention, he is more likely to refuse more help and return to previous behavior.

Tips for caregivers

Helping a person who has symptoms of Diogenes syndrome  can be challenging.

Most people who have the condition refuse help even from family and close friends.

The tendency towards isolation and social anxiety means that many cases of Diogenes syndrome take a long time to identify and treat.

Also read: 9 Social Anxiety Facts You Need to Know

People with immediate or forced interactions are often the first to detect cases of the condition. These include neighbors, close family members and mental health professionals.


by Abdullah Sam
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