Psychiatric Adverse Effects of Corticosteroids

Warrington, Thomas P.; Bostwick, J. Michael
October 2006
Mayo Clinic Proceedings;Oct2006, Vol. 81 Issue 10, p1361
Academic Journal
Psychiatric adverse effects during systemic corticosteroid therapy are common. Two large meta-analyses found that severe reactions occurred in nearly 6% of patients, and mild to moderate reactions occurred in about 28%. Although disturbances of mood, cognition, sleep, and behavior as well as frank delirium or even psychosis are possible, the most common adverse effects of short-term corticosteroid therapy are euphoria and hypomania. Conversely, long-term therapy tends to induce depressive symptoms. Dosage is directly related to the incidence of adverse effects but is not related to the timing, severity, or duration of these effects. Neither the presence nor the absence of previous reactions predicts adverse responses to subsequent courses of corticosteroids. Corticosteroid-induced symptoms frequently present early in a treatment cycle and typically resolve with dosage reduction or discontinuation of corticosteroids. In severe cases or situations in which the dose cannot be reduced, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers may be required. This review offers an approach to identifying and managing corticosteroid-induced psychiatric syndromes based on the type of symptoms and anticipated duration of corticosteroid treatment.


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