Psychiatric manifestations of autoimmune diseases - diagnostic and therapeutic problems
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Psychiatr Pol 2012;46(6):1029–1042
In autoimmune diseases, also called connective tissue diseases, many systems and organs are involved, including the central, peripheral and autonomic nervous system. The frequency of neurological and neuropsychiatric manifestations varies in certain autoimmune diseases. One of the most common causes of these symptoms are vascular pathologies, including inflammatory and thrombotic, immunologic and atherosclerotic changes. Neuropsychiatric complications may present as a single symptom or might form a syndrome. In a particular patient, a syndrome might change its form in time, presenting itself as a different syndrome. Quite a lot of these symptoms are not a result of a disease itself but its treatment, metabolic abnormalities, arterial hypertension or infection. Steroids play a particular role in the induction of these complications. The role of increasingly used biological agents is uncertain. The most frequent psychiatric manifestations of the connective tissue diseases are: benign behavioural changes, emotional instability and sleep impairment. Neuropsychiatric symptoms are most frequently seen in systemic lupus erythematosus (up to 80% of these patients), particularly with the co-existent antiphospholipidsyndrome. Psychoses with or without seizures are included in the diagnostic criteria of the disease. A separate clinical problem is an induction of a synthesis of autoantiobodies by some drugs, including psychiatric drugs. These antibodies induce clinical symptoms of an autoimmune disease only in some patients, most frequently the symptoms of lupus erythematous, co called: drug induced lupus, including arthralgia, myalgia, fever, skin lesions and serositis. The diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric complications of autoimmune diseases is quite complicated. It is extremely important to distinguish whether a particular symptom is primary to the disease itself or secondary to its treatment. The most important recommendations are treatment of the underlying disease, its exacerbations and chronic phase, and prevention and treatment of vascular problems.