Walking Corpse Syndrome

Walking Corpse Syndrome Definition

Walking Corpse Syndrome is a rare disease, resultant of a neuropsychiatric disorder. In this syndrome, victims have the wrong perception about their existence or misconception that they are suffering from major organ failure and their life is no more.

Walking Corpse syndrome

All these perceptions are considered as delusions. Alternatively, Walking Corpse Syndrome can be explained as existence denial”. Patients with Walking Corpse Syndrome often have a feeling of guiltiness with full of negative thoughts and anxiety. Associated nervous system disorder can also cause hallucination of immortality1.

Risk factors

Different risk factors are identified for developing Walking Corpse Syndrome, the following are some considerable risk factors.

  • Age factor – the older individuals are higher risk group for developing Walking Corpse Syndrome.Association of mental disorders- some patients having mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, dementia and/or bipolar disorders are mostly affected with Walking Corpse Syndrome.
  • Some considerable brain-related diseases like brain tumors, brain injury, seizure, brain atrophy, Parkinson’s disease, migraine, and stroke promotes Walking Corpse Syndrome development.
  • Renal failure patients have a tendency to face drug adverse event as the excretion of the drug is nor frequent and not adequate due to the kidney are not functioning properly. One of the drugs which have following criteria is acyclovir. After metabolism, acyclovir converts to CMMG and renal failure patient unable to excrete this metabolite. Therefore, accumulation of this metabolite in blood plasma can cause development of
  • It could also be a consequence of an adverse drug reaction to acyclovir, an antiviral drug, in patients with kidney failure. These patients are unable to excrete a metabolite of acyclovir called CMMG, which accumulates in the blood and causes the symptoms of Walking Corpse Syndrome1,2.

Triggering Factor

A clinical researcher team got some clue that acyclovir, the well established anti viral drug use herpes virus, cold sores, shingles and chicken pox has triggering effect to produce Walking Corpse Syndrome. The effect is more prominent in kidney failure patients.

This conclusion has come up from the patients symptoms analysis, who undergoes dialysis. Acyclovir is metabolized before it excretes from body through kidney. The metabolic product of acyclovir is CMMG (9-carboxymethoxymethylguanine ). It is already established that the patients who have Walking Corpse Syndrome also contain large CMMG in blood.

Therefre, CCMG is biomarker of Walking Corpse Syndrome. Therefore enhancement of CCMG trigger Walking Corpse Syndrome. Kidney failure patients unable to excrete CMMG and accumulation of this cause enhancement of blood level of CMMG5.


In 1880, the first case of Walking Corpse Syndrome was detected and illustrated by Jules Cotard and he described the Walking Corpse disease as ‘délire des negations’ means negative deliriums. Walking Corpse Syndrome name also signifies the first describer name.

The different case study analysis helps to indicate the predominance of the syndrome is mainly affected older aged women in comparison to males. Some associated features are mostly common in Walking Corpse Syndrome cases, which include patient may be suffering from any of the following disease conditions1,2:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Brain injury
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Brain atrophy
  • Brain tumors
  • Seizure disorders
  • Depression
  • Migraine
  • Stroke
  • Delirious states

Walking Corpse Syndrome: Walking Dead Syndrome In some medical article, it has been reported that Walking Corpse Syndrome as Walking Dead Syndrome, as affected patients rundown themselves for intake of food, as they consider themselves as dead. Therefore, Walking Corpse Syndrome can cause starvation and that leads to a fatal outcome.

The affected individual also has the propensity to kill or harm themselves2,3.


Affected person with Walking Corpse Syndrome has following symptoms, though practically these feelings have no existence The symptoms of includes1,2,3

  • consider themselves as dead
  • believes that no existence of themselves
  • they can even feel stink of rotting flesh
  • assuming vital organ functioning is completely lost
  • some have a feeling of immortality


The underlying cause of progression of Walking Corpse Syndrome is yet not discovered. But some possible factors are considered as the reason of development of Walking Corpse Syndrome.

Lesion in the brain lobes, specifically associated localized lesion develops on the right hemisphere of the brain at frontal and temporal regions1,2,4.


There are three stages of Walking Corpse Syndrome and the stage discrimination is conducted depending upon the severity of the symptoms.

First or germination stage

The major symptoms include psychotic depression and chronic anxiety (hypochondria). Episodic attacks of psychotic depression along with psychotic symptoms like delirium or hallucination is common. The specific chronic anxiety is related to having a serious ailments, which is hypothetical. They always have a tendency to act as an unwell and for this they are seriously worried.

Second or blooming stage

The suffer suffers from delirium of denial and complete development of walking corpse syndrome.

Third or chronic stage

The affected individual familiars with persistent mental depression and severe delirium6.


The symptomatic analysis is basic of diagnosing of Walking Corpse Syndrome. The different neurological and brain related test including brain MRI and/or Brain CT scan are conducted to determine the underlying cause, such as the site of the brain lesion or identify neuronal damage 1,2,4.


The aim of the provided treatment to treat the patient affected with Walking Corpse Syndrome is to provide symptomatic relieve. The therapy includes antidepressants, antipsychotics medicines and also used mood stabilizers.

But medicines alone do not sufficiently provide an effective result. The combination of Electroconvulsive therapy with medicine provides a better result than single therapeutic approach 1,2.


  1. All About the Walking Corpse Syndrome; Retrieve from: https://nobullying.com/walking-corpse-syndrome/
    Dr. Simi Paknikar; Walking Corpse Syndrome: Symptoms, Signs, Diagnosis & Treatment; http://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/walking-corpse-syndrome.htm
  2. DISCOVERY FIT AND HEALTH WRITERS; What is Cotard’s Syndrome? http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/mental-disorders/what-is-cotards-syndrome.htm
  3. Ben Bryant; Man with ‘Walking Corpse Syndrome’ believes he is dead; http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10081702/Man-with-Walking-Corpse-Syndrome-believes-he-is-dead.html
  4. Helldén A, Lycke J, Vander T, Svensson JO, Odar-Cederlöf I, Ståhle L.; The aciclovir metabolite CMMG is detectable in the CSF of subjects with neuropsychiatric symptoms during aciclovir and valaciclovir treatment; J Antimicrob Chemother. 2006 May;57(5):945-9. Epub 2006 Mar 15.
  5. Walking Corpse Syndrome; mddk ONLINE MEDICAL DOCTOR; Retrieved from http://mddk.com/walking-corpse-syndrome.html

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