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Psychosomatics. 2012 Mar-Apr;53(2):103-15. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2011.12.007.

The neuropsychiatric complications of glucocorticoid use: steroid psychosis revisited.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA. ADUBOVSKY@PARTNERS.ORG

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Glucocorticoids are widely prescribed for a variety of diseases and are known to cause neuropsychiatric as well as somatic side effects.

OBJECTIVE:

This article will review the incidence, clinical characteristics, course, and treatment of neuropsychiatric effects of glucocorticoids.

METHODS:

We performed a literature review of the neuropsychiatric complications of glucocorticoids using the PubMed database.

RESULTS:

The neuropsychiatric effects of glucocorticoids involve affective, behavioral, and cognitive manifestations. Serious neuropsychiatric effects occur in about 6% of patients who receive steroids. Although the effects of glucocorticoids are unpredictable, the administered dose is the most significant risk factor for the development of neuropsychiatric symptoms. Dosage reduction typically results in clinical recovery. Although evidence from controlled trials is sparse, administration of antipsychotics or mood stabilizers may be beneficial in the prevention and treatment of neuropsychiatric effects of steroids.

CONCLUSION:

The neuropsychiatric effects of glucocorticoids are more diverse than the often-misleading term "steroid psychosis" suggests. This label should be limited to those patients who are truly psychotic, and specific designations applied to patients with other effects. The adverse neuropsychiatric effects of glucocorticoids remain poorly characterized in the literature (which consists largely of case reports and case series). Reliable risk factors (other than dose) that identify individuals at risk are lacking; guidelines for the prevention of neuropsychiatric effects are not evidence-based. Further controlled clinical studies are needed to elucidate the optimal management of glucocorticoid-induced neuropsychiatric symptoms.

Copyright © 2012 The Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
22424158
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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