Cases That Test Your Skills

Command hallucinations, but is it really psychosis?

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Six months into her stay at the LTSR, Ms. D remains clinically stable and is able to leave the LTSR placement to go on home passes. At this time, the team begins to taper the haloperidol long-acting injection. One month prior to discharge from the LTSR, haloperidol is discontinued entirely. The treatment team simultaneously tapers and discontinues benztropine. No recurrence of extrapyramidal symptoms is observed by staff or noted by the patient.

A treatment plan is developed to address Ms. D’s medical conditions, including hypothyroidism, GERD, and obesity. Ms. D does not appear to have difficulty sleeping at the LTSR, so melatonin is tapered by 3-mg decrements and stopped after 2 months. However, shortly thereafter, she develops insomnia, so a 3-mg dose is re-initiated, and her complaints abate. Her primary care physician discontinues hydrochlorothiazide, an antihypertensive medication.

Ms. D’s medication regimen consists of melatonin, 3 mg at bedtime; pantoprazole, 40 mg before breakfast, for GERD; senna, 8.6 mg at bedtime, and polyethylene glycol, 17 gm/d, for constipation; levothyroxine, 125 mcg/d, for hypothyroidism; metoprolol extended-release, 50 mg/d, for hypertension; and ferrous sulfate, 325 mg/d, for iron deficiency anemia.

OUTCOME Improved functioning

After 11 months at the LTSR, Ms. D is discharged home. She continues to receive outpatient services in the community through the ACT program, meeting with her therapist for cognitive-behavioral therapy, skills building and learning, and integration.

Approximately 9 months later, Ms. D is re-started on an SSRI (sertraline, 50 mg/d, which is increased to 100 mg/d 9 months later) to target symptoms of anxiety, which primarily manifest as excessive worrying. Hydroxyzine, 50 mg 3 times daily as needed, is added to this regimen, for breakthrough anxiety symptoms. Hydroxyzine is prescribed instead of a benzodiazepine to avoid potential addiction and abuse.

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