Cases That Test Your Skills

The paranoid business executive

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Mr. R, age 48, presents to the ED for the third time in 4 days with manic symptoms and paranoid behavior, including changing the locks on his home. How would you help him?



CASE Bipolar-like symptoms

Mr. R, age 48, presents to the psychiatric emergency department (ED) for the third time in 4 days after a change in his behavior over the last 2.5 weeks. He exhibits heightened extroversion, pressured speech, and uncharacteristic irritability. Mr. R’s wife reports that her husband normally is reserved.

Mr. R’s wife first became concerned when she noticed he was not sleeping and spending his nights changing the locks on their home. Mr. R, who is a business executive, occupied his time by taking notes on ways to protect his identity from the senior partners at his company.

Three weeks before his first ED visit, Mr. R had been treated for a neck abscess with incision and drainage. He was sent home with a 10-day course of amoxicillin/clavulanate, 875/125 mg by mouth twice daily. There were no reports of steroid use during or after the procedure. Four days after starting the antibiotic, he stopped taking it because he and his wife felt it was contributing to his mood changes and bizarre behavior.

During his first visit to the ED, Mr. R received a 1-time dose of olanzapine, 5 mg by mouth, which helped temporarily reduce his anxiety; however, he returned the following day with the same anxiety symptoms and was discharged with a 30-day prescription for olanzapine, 5 mg/d, to manage symptoms until he could establish care with an outpatient psychiatrist. Two days later, he returned to the ED yet again convinced people were spying on him and that his coworkers were plotting to have him fired. He was not taking his phone to work due to fears that it would be hacked.

Mr. R’s only home medication is clomiphene citrate, 100 mg/d by mouth, which he’s received for the past 7 months to treat low testosterone. He has no personal or family history of psychiatric illness and no prior signs of mania or hypomania.

At the current ED visit, Mr. R’s testosterone level is checked and is within normal limits. His urine drug screen, head CT, and standard laboratory test results are unremarkable, except for mild transaminitis that does not warrant acute management.

The clinicians in the ED establish a diagnosis of mania, unspecified, and psychotic disorder, unspecified. They recommend that Mr. R be admitted for mood stabilization.

Continue to: The authors' observations


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