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Munchausen

dear sam

firstly, please don't judge me on what i am about to say. i am a bit worried that i might have slight munchausen syndrome. i want to find a way to solve this on my own, specifically without telling my parents. what can i do; do you have any tips.

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Sam

Hi there,

Worrying that you might have a condition like Munchausen’s syndrome can be scary and you might feel frightened about telling someone else in case they judge you. But keeping your fears to yourself can sometimes make things feel worse and you might start to believe that you have the condition even though you've not seen your doctor and its not been diagnosed. Talking to an adult can help you to feel less anxious and can also help you to get any support that you need.

Munchausen’s syndrome is a condition where a person might fake an illness, lie about their symptoms or try make themselves more ill. It’s possible for children and young people to have it but it’s more common in adults. Often someone who has Munchausen’s syndrome will be aware that they don’t have the illness they’re presenting or that they are making the symptoms worse but they might not know why they’re making it seem as if they’re physically or mentally unwell.

Munchausen’s syndrome is different to hypochondria. Hypochondria is also called health anxiety because the person has a fear of illness or might think things like normal body sensations or minor ill health are signs of a serious illness. Both conditions can be treated and it’s always okay to talk to an adult you trust if you’re worried about your health, including worries about your mental health.

It’s important to remember that lots of people worry about their health or might exaggerate their symptoms from time to time and it’s normal to feel more worried about being ill when you’re under pressure or you’re feeling stressed. But without medical advice it’s hard to know whether anxiety is causing your symptoms, you have an illness or whether you have a condition like Munchausen’s syndrome.

You should see your doctor if you’re spending a lot of time thinking about being ill, worrying that you have the symptoms of an illness or you’re trying to make it look like you have an illness you don’t actually have. You can ask to see you doctor on your own if you’re over 16 and if you’re younger the doctor will tell you if they need to involve your parent or carer. When you see your doctor try to be as honest as you can about what’s happening and how you’re feeling. If it’s hard to explain face to face you could write down what you want to say and give it to your doctor in the appointment.

I hope this advice has helped and remember, you can talk more about this and anything else that’s worrying you with a Childline counsellor.

Take care and thank you for your letter,

Sam

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