Diogenes syndrome can affect both men and women of any age. However, it most commonly manifests as a behavioral disorder in older adults. According to studies, it is the most common among people who are over 60 years old and live alone. Diogenes syndrome is considered rare, but there is no study on it yet so we don’t know for sure how common it is. Read on to learn more about Diogenes syndrome!
What Is Diogenes Syndrome?
Diogenes is a 4th-century Greek philosopher. When Alexander the Great found him sitting under the sun and asked how he could help him, Diogenes replied, “I would have you stop standing between me and the sun.” Alexander was struck by Diogenes’ greatness but others branded Diogenes as having a “disdain for social organization” and “lack of shame”, thus giving his name to the syndrome.
Diogenes syndrome is a mental health condition that is characterized by hoarding, poor personal hygiene, and untidy living quarters. It tends to affect older men and women, so it is also known as senile squalor syndrome. People with Diogenes syndrome show no concern about self-care or keeping a clean living environment. They appear to be unconcerned about their condition or the reactions of others to it.
Diogenes is thought of as a reaction to a late-life tragedy in some cases, such as the death of a caregiver or lifelong partner. Treatment is usually complex because the person doesn’t want anyone to intrude into their way of life, which leads to a lack of cooperation and resistance.
Different cultures have different perspectives on protection and self-hygiene. As a result, many people who have Diogenes syndrome can be challenging to diagnose and treat. Meanwhile, if the condition is not treated, poor hygiene and self-neglect can pose a danger to the person.
There are 2 types of Diogenes syndrome:
- Primary Diogenes Syndrome
The primary Diogenes syndrome is noted as not being caused by current medical conditions, which means it happened abruptly and may have a specific reason for it to happen.
- Secondary Diogenes Syndrome
The secondary Diogenes syndrome stems from another mental health ailment. Self-neglect syndrome, senile or extreme social breakdown syndrome, Messy House syndrome, and senile squalor syndrome are other terms for Diogenes syndrome.
Symptoms of Diogenes Syndrome
Symptoms of Diogenes syndrome differ, but some common characteristics, including self-neglect, may be present. This includes the following:
- A lack of knowledge or understanding of personal hygiene or protection.
- Distrust in society and strangers
- Obsessive-compulsive behavior.
- Social anxiety.
- Unsanitary living conditions.
- Hoarding and collection of trash or household items.
- Unwillingness to accept help.
- Distorted reality.
- Distrust in medical treatments and professionals’ advice.
- Hostility and aggression.
- Malnutrition, poor diet.
- Skin conditions, such as dermatitis passivata.
Treatment for Diogenes Syndrome
Currently, there are no therapies or drugs available for the treatment of Diogenes syndrome. However, there are medications for other disorders, such as mania or paranoia, which can help to relieve the symptoms.
Psychological factors have to be considered since they can perpetuate or cause the syndrome. People can benefit from having intensive psychological treatment or counseling.
There are some therapies that are most effective taken together with other support services that can work to treat the underlying cause of the syndrome. Personal care facilities and caregivers can help to reduce the severity of symptoms.