How do we know an outbreak of sickness is caused by mass psychogenic illness?
The following might indicate that a group sickness is caused by mass psychogenic illness:
- Many people get sick at the same time.
- Physical exams and tests show normal results.
- Doctors can't find anything in the group's environment that would make people sick (for example, some kind of poison in the air, water or food).
The patterns of the outbreak (for example, the kinds of illnesses that are reported, the kinds of people who are affected, the way the illness spreads) might also give evidence of mass psychogenic illness.
However, if any of the following symptoms are true, you should see your doctor to be checked for a different reason for your health problem:
- Your illness lasts several days.
- You have a fever.
- Your muscles are twitching.
- Tears keep coming from your eyes.
- Your skin feels like it has been burned.
Mass Psychogenic Illness: Role of the Individual Physician by TF Jones, MD (American Family Physician December 15, 2000, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20001215/2649.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff