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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 58 (2016) 11, 794 - 802

Review article

Acromegaly: recognition of a rare disease in psychiatric practice

A.J. de Kort, D. Postulart, G.A.A.M. Wetzer, S.H.P.P. Roerink

background Acromegaly is a rare disease which is caused by a tumour in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. The tumour stimulates excessive production of the growth hormone. As a result, all the organs and tissues in the body are induced to grow. This growth is responsible for a wide range of symptoms, some of which can be neuro-psychiatric.
aim To promote the early detection of acromegaly so that treatment can be started as soon as possible and further damage can be prevented.
method We searched PubMed for articles relating to quality of life and cognitive, psychological and psychiatric symptoms and personality changes associated with acromegaly.
results We describe the pathophysiology and epidemiology of acromegaly. Then we present the characteristic, external changes, neuro-cognitive complications, psychiatric disorders, personality changes and relevant comorbid somatic symptoms. Acromegaly is a disease in which patients, long before being diagnosed, present with cognitive and affective disorders. Before patients are diagnosed, they have often visited several consultants in connection with their nonspecific symptoms.
conclusion We believe that in everyday practice patients with acromegaly are frequently misdiagnosed. If patients present with extensive somatic co-morbidity and treatment-resistant depression and particularly if these symptoms are combined with the typical external features of acromegaly, then acromegaly can be suspected and further investigation should proceed without delay.

keywords acromegaly, cognition, mood