Department of Psychiatry, SUNY Upstate, NY 13210, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
The American College of Rheumatology has defined 19 neuropsychiatric syndromes associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) involving the central, peripheral, and autonomic nervous systems. Neuropsychiatric manifestations of lupus (NPSLE) have been shown to occur in up to 95% of pediatric patients with SLE.
The authors describe a 15-year-old African American young woman with a family history positive for bipolar I disorder and schizophrenia, who presented with symptoms consistent with an affective disorder.
The patient was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder with catatonic features and required multiple hospitalizations for mood disturbance. Two years after her initial presentation, the patient was noted to have a malar rash and subsequently underwent a full rheumatologic work-up, which revealed cerebral vasculitis.
NPSLE was diagnosed and, after treatment with steroids, the patient improved substantially and no longer required further psychiatric medication or therapy.
Given the especially high prevalence of NPSLE in pediatric patients with lupus, it is important for clinicians to recognize that neuropsychiatric symptoms in an adolescent patient may indeed be the initial manifestations of SLE, as opposed to a primary affective disorder.