Cotard's Syndrome is a rare disorder in which the affected person believe they are dead, dying, or don't exist. It was first discovered by Dr.Jules Cotard in 1880, who described the condition as "The Delirium of Negation". The patient was a woman known as “Mademoiselle X”, complaining of feeling anxious, despair, and believing she was dead.
Researchers don't know as to what causes Cotard's Syndrome, but there are a few possible risk factors. According to multiple studies, the average age of people diagnose is about 50 but it can also occur in children and teenagers. In addition, women seem to have a higher chance to develop Cotard's Syndrome.
Other mental health conditions that increases a person's chance of developing Cotard's Syndrome:
- bipolar disorder
- postpartum depression
- depersonalization disorder
- dissociative disorder
- psychotic depression
Patients with Cortard's Syndrome are difficult to diagnose because most physicians don't recognize this disorder. In addition, Cotard's Syndrome patients often have other mental illnesses.
Patients describe themselves as nonexistence, with a feeling of disconnection from the living world. They often distance themselves from others and disappear from others. Sometimes patients may refuse to eat and try to harm themselves because they believe they are dead.
It is frequently diagnose incorrectly because it is a symptom of another condition, not a disease itself so it is not in the DSM, the handbook doctors use to diagnose mental health problems. Doctors usually diagnose Cotard's Syndrome after ruling out other conditions that have similar symptoms.
There are many ways to treat Cotard's syndrome. The most common way is to combine medication and talk therapy to provide a safe environment for them to release their stress and cope with them.
Some types of medicines used treat Cotard's syndrome include:
- Antianxiety drugs
If none of the above options work, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is used as a last resort. Electroconvulsive therapy is a type of treatment consisting of sending small electrical currents through the brain. A drawback of this treatment is the changes it can do is cause memory loss and confusion.