Diogenes Syndrome: Symptoms, Treatment and Caregiving

Diogenes Syndrome

What is diogenes syndrome?

Diogenes syndrome is a mental illness that affects older people. It can affect both males and women. The main symptoms are dirty homes, excessive hoarding and poor personal hygiene. Diogenes syndrome causes people to retreat from life and society.

They frequently live alone and are unaware that there is anything wrong with their house or lack of self-esteem. These circumstances frequently result in diseases such as pneumonia, as well as accidents such as falls or fires. It is frequently in these instances that the person’s illness is first recognized.

Diogenes syndrome is frequently associated with mental disorders such as:

This is a tough problem to cure. It’s also difficult to care for those who have it.

Read: Internet Addiction Disorder

Hoarding and Diogenes syndrome

Hoarding disorder has been described as a special manifestation of Diogenes syndrome by researchers.

People with Diogenes syndrome’s homes can often become so dirty and unhygienic that those from a similar cultural background consider the environment to be unclean and unhygienic.

The presence of hoarded possessions can pose a public health risk, since they attract insects and rodents. It is also possible for possessions and trash to accumulate and cause a fire hazard, preventing the individual from escaping in the event of a fire.


People in their forties and fifties are sometimes diagnosed with diogenes syndrome. However, it is more common in persons over the age of 60. Symptoms generally manifest themselves over time.

Withdrawal from social situations and avoidance of others are common early signs. People may also begin to exhibit bad judgment, behavioral changes and improper actions.

This is a condition that can go unnoticed for a long time. This is partly owing to the severe isolation that Diogenes syndrome causes.

Undiagnosed people may experience the following warning signs:

  • Rashes on the skin caused by a lack of cleanliness, fleas or lice
  • Matted, unkempt hair
  • Overgrown fingernails and toenails
  • Body odor
  • A messy look
  • Harms that aren’t explained
  • Malnutrition
  • Dehydration

The person’s house will almost certainly show symptoms of neglect and deterioration as well. Here are a few examples:

  • Rodent infestation
  • A large quantity of trash in and around the house
  • A strong, disagreeable odor

Diogenes syndrome is characterized by the presence of any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Severe self-absorption
  • Filthy surroundings
  • Excessive hoarding
  • Denial about their circumstances
  • There is no guilt or embarrassment about their surroundings or lack of cleanliness
  • Rejection of help or support

Read: Hoarding Disorder

Risk factors

It is not necessary to have one or more risk factors for this disease to occur. A single occurrence is frequently used as a trigger for the development of symptoms. This might be due to the loss of a spouse or other close relative, divorce or retirement, among other things.

Symptoms might also be brought on by medical problems. These can include the following:

  • Stroke
  • Loss of movement as a result of arthritis or fractured bones
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Dementia
  • Vision problems
  • Increasing frailty
  • Depression

Other factors to consider are:

  • The death of a dependable friend or caregiver
  • Mental illness history
  • Drug abuse history
  • Abuse in the past
  • Characteristics such as introverted
  • Personality traits, including such unfriendliness, suspiciousness or an overall detachment from everyone

Read: Ganser Syndrome


Diogenes syndrome patients seldom seek care. They are frequently diagnosed when a family member seeks assistance on their behalf. It’s also possible that a diagnosis will be made as a consequence of complaints from neighbors.

Diogenes syndrome is not recognized as a medical condition. These symptoms can also be found in a variety of different illnesses. These may include the following:

  • Compulsive hoarding
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dementia

Diogenes syndrome is divided into two kinds. They are as follows:

  • Primary Diogenes syndrome: When no other mental disease has been detected.
  • Secondary Diogenes syndrome: This diagnosis is provided when the entire diagnosis includes another mental disorder.

Approximately 50% of all diagnosed cases belong to each of these groups.

A doctor will search for signs in the person’s behavioral and social background to reach a diagnosis. A social worker might be able to assist you. This is especially true if the person has a history of complaints from neighbors or others against them.

A physical examination and brain imaging tests, such as an MRI or PET scan, can assist a doctor in identifying any underlying causes that may be curable.

Read: Tardive Dyskinesia

Diogenes syndrome treatment

In certain cases, Diogenes syndrome is difficult to treat, but continuous care is necessary. If left untreated, people with the condition may face life-threatening sickness or damage. Their condition may also endanger people in their immediate vicinity.

A doctor will explore underlying causes to identify the best treatment. The first stage is to determine the person’s competency. Behavioral treatments, such as those used for compulsive hoarding, may be helpful if the client is able to participate in their own therapy.

Medications for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety or psychosis may be utilized as treatments.

If the person is willing to participate, support groups or other kinds of support networking can also be beneficial.

Inpatient therapy may be required for someone with this disease. Sometimes all they need is a caregiver to come to their house and check on them. Their doctor will choose how to collaborate with the patient and their family to develop a treatment plan.

Read: Cognitive Disorder


Diogenes syndrome is a condition that can be overcome. Others’ assistance and support are a vital component of a therapy strategy. People who remain in dangerous situations have a poor chance of long-term survival or high quality of life.


Caring for someone with severe illness may be exhausting. The person you knew may have disappeared entirely. If they are still unable to care for themselves, you may need to seek legal or medical assistance. Alternatively, involuntary commitment may be required. This happens when they are unable to make sound judgments on their own.

The laws governing involuntary commitment differ from state to state. You must show that the person is at risk of hurting themselves or others in order to pursue involuntary commitment. While you may be aware of the circumstances, the court may be less so.

Having solid records can aid you in justifying the necessity to remove the individual from their home and place them in a facility. It’s important to remember that involuntary commitment does not imply involuntary treatment. You’ll need to stay involved in deciding on long-term care and treatments.

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