Cotard delusion, also known as or nihilistic delusion or walking corpsesyndrome or Cotard’s syndrome , is a rare mental disorder in which the affected person holds the delusional belief that they are already dead, do not exist, are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs.
Signs and Symptoms:
One of the main symptoms of Cotard delusion is nihilism. Nihilism is the belief that nothing has any value or meaning. It can also include the belief that nothing really exists. People with Cotard delusion feel as if they’re dead or rotting away. In some cases, they might feel like they’ve never existed.
While some people feel this way about their entire body, others only feel it in regard to specific organs, limbs, or even their soul.
Depression is also closely related to Cotard delusion. A 2011 review of existing research about Cotard delusion notes that 89% of documented cases include depression as a symptom.
Other symptoms include:
preoccupation with hurting yourself or death
Researchers aren’t sure what causes Cotard delusion, but there are a few possible risk factors. Several studies indicate that the average age of people with Cotard delusion is about 50. It can also occur in children and teenagers. People under the age of 25 with Cotard delusion tend to also have bipolar depression. Women also seem to be more likely to develop Cotard delusion.
In addition, Cotard delusion seems to occur more often in people who think their personal characteristics, rather than their environment, cause their behavior. People who believe that their environment causes their behavior are more likely to have a related condition called Capgras syndrome. This syndrome causes people to think their family and friends have been replaced by imposters. Cotard delusion and Capgras syndrome can also appear together.
Other mental health conditions that might increase someone’s risk of developing Cotard delusion include:
Cotard delusion also seems to be associated with certain neurological conditions, including: