Cases That Test Your Skills

New-onset psychosis while being treated for coronavirus

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During the second hospitalization, nursing staff reported that Mr. G seemed religiously preoccupied and once reported seeing angels and demons. He was observed sitting in a chair praying to Allah that he would “come in on a horse to chop all the workers’ heads off.”

On Day 11, Mr. G was discharged home. Later that evening, the EMS brought him back in the ED due to his girlfriend’s concerns about his mental state.


On Day 12, psychiatry is consulted to evaluate Mr. G’s new-onset psychosis. Mr. G is alert and oriented to person, place, and time. His speech is loud, though the amount and rate are unremarkable. He displays no psychomotor agitation. His thought process is tangential and focuses on religious themes, specifically referring to Islam. He reports auditory hallucinations of God speaking directly to him. Mr. G states, “I am here because of a miraculous transformation from death back to life. Do you believe in God? Which God do you believe in? There are 2 Gods and only one of them is the true God. He is the God of all the 7 heavens and His true name is Allah, only one God, one faith. Allah is a ball of energy.”

Mr. G’s girlfriend provides collateral information that Mr. G had been raised Christian but was not religious as an adult. She says that he had never spoken about being Muslim. She adds that she had never known him to speak much about religion.

The authors’ observations

The etiology of new-onset psychosis can be related to several factors, including primary psychiatric illnesses, use of illicit substances, sequelae of general medical conditions, or adverse effects of prescribed medications. We considered each of these in the differential diagnosis for Mr. G.

Continue to: Psychiatric illness or illicit substance use

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