Cases That Test Your Skills

Obsessions or psychosis?

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Mr. R, age 17, has severe symptoms of OCD that limit his daily functioning and academics. While being treated for this, he develops symptoms suggestive of psychosis. How would you help him?



CASE Perseverating on nonexistent sexual assaults

Mr. R, age 17, who has been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), presents to the emergency department (ED) because he thinks that he is being sexually assaulted and is concerned that he is sexually assaulting other people. His family reports that Mr. R has perseverated over these thoughts for months, although there is no evidence to suggest these events have occurred. In order to ameliorate his distress, he performs rituals of looking upwards and repeatedly saying, “It didn’t happen.”

Mr. R is admitted to the inpatient psychiatry unit for further evaluation.

HISTORY Decompensation while attending a PHP

Mr. R had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder when he was 13. During that time, he was treated with divalproex sodium and dextroamphetamine. At age 15, Mr. R’s diagnosis was changed to OCD. Seven months before coming to the ED, his symptoms had been getting worse. On one occasion, Mr. R was talking in a nonsensical fashion at school, and the police were called. Mr. R became physically aggressive with the police and was subsequently hospitalized, after which he attended a partial hospitalization program (PHP). At the PHP, Mr. R received exposure and response prevention therapy for OCD, but did not improve, and his symptoms deteriorated until he was unable to brush his teeth or shower regularly. While attending the PHP, Mr. R also developed disorganized speech. The PHP clinicians became concerned that Mr. R’s symptoms may have been prodromal symptoms of schizophrenia because he did not respond to the OCD treatment and his symptoms had worsened over the 3 months he attended the PHP.

EVALUATION Normal laboratory results

Upon admission to the inpatient psychiatric unit, Mr. R is restarted on his home medications, which include fluvoxamine, 150 mg in the morning and 200 mg at bedtime; methylfolate, 2,000 mcg/d; risperidone, 3 mg nightly; and hydroxyzine, 25 mg as needed for anxiety.

His laboratory workup, including a complete blood count, comprehensive metabolic panel, urine drug screen, and blood ethanol, are all within normal limits. Previous laboratory results, including a thyroid function panel, vitamin D level, and various autoimmune panels, were also within normal limits.

His family reports that Mr. R’s symptoms seem to worsen when he is under increased stress from school and prepping for standardized college admission examinations. The family also says that while he is playing tennis, Mr. R will posture himself in a crouched down position and at times will remain in this position for 30 minutes.

Mr. R says he eventually wants to go to college and have a professional career.

Continue to: The authors' observations


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