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Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2003;7(4):281-3. doi: 10.1080/13561500310003174.

Safety of fluoxetine treatment in a case of acute intermittent porphyria.

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Psychiatry Clinic, Sisli Etfal Training and Research Hospital, Istanbul.


Acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) is a metabolic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of neurological and psychiatric dysfunction. It is a rare disorder of heme metabolism that usually presents with abdominal pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and autonomic nervous system disturbances. Exposure to certain drugs, dieting, starvation and infection during pregnancy may precipitate AIP attacks. Psychiatric manifestations of AIP include mood changes, organic brain syndrome and psychosis. Here, we present a 21-year-old female patient with AIP and major depression. She had a caesarean section under general anesthesia with pentothal and her recovery time from anesthesia took longer than usual. She had a blood transfusion because of severe anemia following the operation. Three days after her discharge she was readmitted to the hospital with confusion and seizure. It was her first AIP attack and it started 6 days after caesarean section. Two months after her first attack, we saw her for anxiety and depressive symptoms. She was in severe anxiety and depression and she was put on fluoxetine (20 mg/day liquid form). Following the treatment she did not develop any other porphyria attack. Her symptoms vanished and she improved functionally. She stayed on fluoxetine for 6 months without any new AIP attack. Despite limited data regarding fluoxetine therapy in porphyria patients, it seems to be safe for the treatment of depressive and anxiety symptoms in these patients.


acute intermittent porphyria (AIP); drug therapy; psychiatric disorders


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