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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 53 (2011) 1, 37 - 47

Review article

Corticosteroid-induced paranoid psychosis: case report and review of the literature

L. Seurs, A. Mierzejewska, S.J. Claes

background Our study focuses on a 30-year-old man who was hospitalised against his will because of his agitated psychotic state. His symptoms were indicative of a paranoid psychotic disorder resulting from the use of corticosteroids. We considered it important to report this case because corticosteroids have been widely prescribed since about 1950 to treat a broad spectrum of somatic illnesses and because there have been many reports of both mild and acute psychiatric sideeffects.
aim To obtain answers to the following questions: what is the incidence of steroid-induced psychotic symptoms? Do patients with a psychiatric history run a greater risk of developing a steroid-induced psychosis? What are the most important risk factors and how can we prevent the development of steroid-induced psychotic symptoms?
method After discussing the case, we studied the literature systematically using Medline.
results Up till now, very little reliable evidence has been available relating to steroidinduced psychosis. Therefore there has been a lack of information about the incidence of psychotic symptoms caused by steroids, about the risks involved when the patient has a psychiatric history and about the preventive measures that can be taken.
conclusions The most important risk factor seems to be the dose. Thus, if a patient requires treatment with steroid, it seems advisable to prescribe the lowest possible dose.

keywords corticosteroids, psychosis, side-effects