Division of Child Neurology and Psychiatry, University of Pisa, Italy. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Kleine-Levin syndrome (KLS) is characterized by periodic, sudden-onset episodes of hypersomnia, compulsive hyperphagia, and behavioral-emotional disorders (typically indiscriminate hypersexuality, irritability, impulsive behaviors), lasting from a few days to a few weeks, with almost complete remission in the intercritical periods. Depression, confusion, and thought disorders are frequently associated with the critical symptomatology, and they may suggest other psychiatric diagnoses (schizophrenia, mood disorder, conversion disorder) or a substance abuse. A diencephalic-hypothalamic dysfunction is suspected, even if this composite symptomatology cannot easily be linked to a simple mechanism. The aim of this article is to illustrate problems in differential diagnosis, using a case approach. History, course, and therapeutic intervention in a 21-year-old patient with KLS, associated with a clear psychiatric symptomatology and a critical affective pattern, is reported. Psychiatric correlates of KLS are discussed, including the relationship with affective disorders and the possible emotional impact of the attacks. Implications regarding a combined psychological and pharmacological treatment are also discussed.
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