Iron overload among a psychiatric outpatient population.

J Clin Psychiatry. 1997 Feb;58(2):74-8.

Iron overload among a psychiatric outpatient population.



Iron overload has been suggested to be an unrecognized cause of psychiatric morbidity. This study sought to estimate the prevalence of iron overload in a large outpatient psychiatric clinic.


A retrospective review of screening blood chemistries was conducted on 661 active outpatients at a large, university outpatient psychiatric clinic to identify elevated iron status results (plasma iron, percentage of iron saturation) suggestive of iron overload. Patients with positive profiles were asked to undergo a subsequent blood chemistry to confirm positive results (plasma iron, percentage of iron saturation, plus plasma ferritin). Patients with positive repeated iron chemistry results were considered likely candidates for iron overload.


Twenty-one patients (3.2%) were identified as meeting one of the criteria suggestive of iron overload on initial screening reports. Thirty-one percent of those who underwent subsequent, confirmatory testing (5/16) continued to meet one of the criteria. On the basis of these results, we estimated a 1% (3.2 x 0.31) prevalence rate of likely candidates for iron overload. A review of these patients’ charts indicated that they carried an unexpectedly high rate of bipolar affective disorder (80%) as a diagnosis and were, without exception, atypical in that they were resistant to conventional psychiatric treatment and lacked a family history for this disorder. The prevalence of positive iron overload profiles on a routine blood chemistry was similar to the prevalence of positive thyroid abnormalities based on TSH results in this population.


Blood chemistry profiles suggestive of iron overload may be associated with a small portion of treatment-resistant psychiatric patients. Routine screening for iron abnormalities, especially in treatment-resistant patients, should be considered. Further studies are required to determine the causal association, if any, between iron excess and primary psychiatric illnesses.

Hereditary Hemochromatosis: Early Detection of a Common Yet Elusive Disease

Although widely regarded as a rare disorder, hereditary hemochromatosis is the most common genetic disease in Caucasians. In certain populations of northern European descent, 1 of every 200 persons is homozygous for the causative mutation.1

Hereditary hemochromatosis is also the most common cause of primary iron overload.

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Schizophrenia-like psychosis and aceruloplasminemia


Schizophrenia-like illnesses occur in a variety of medical and neurological conditions but to date have not been described in association with aceruloplasminemia. Aceruloplasminemia is an autosomal recessive disorder of iron metabolism which leads to iron deposition in the basal ganglia, thalamus, cerebellum and hippocampus and which usually presents in middle age with extrapyramidal symptoms and dementia. We describe a 21-year-old woman on treatment for aceruloplasminemia who presented with schizophrenia-like psychosis and declining function in the absence of neurological signs. Neuropsychological testing showed significant dominant hemisphere deficits. Magnetic resonance imaging showed bilateral iron deposition in the cerebellar dentate nuclei and thalami, frontal atrophy, and periventricular white matter hyperintensities. Functional imaging suggested global hypoperfusion. The clinical, cognitive and imaging findings were not typical for either aceruloplasminemia or schizophrenia alone and the possible relationship between the two disorders is discussed with particular reference to implications for our understanding of schizophrenia.

Keywords: aceruloplasminemia, schizophrenia, psychosis
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Heavy Metal: Iron and the Brain

Emily Deans M.D.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional problem in the world, affecting at least 2.5 billion people. In developing countries, as many as 40% of young children and 50% of pregnant women are deficient. Iron is a prevalent mineral, making up 5% of the earth’s crust, but a combination of inefficiency in absorption, poor iron in certain staple grain foods, and medical conditions make low iron levels a frequent occurrence among humans. Even in first world countries, iron is the most common nutrient deficiency.

Low iron intake and accelerated iron loss (generally through bleeding or breastfeeding) are the main causes of iron deficiency. Therefore pregnant women, breastfeeding women, women with heavy periods, children and other folks who are picky eaters, vegetarians and vegans, and anyone with digestion issues causing reduced absorption (such as celiac disease or post gastric bypass) or increased bleeding (such as cancer, ulcers, gastritis, or parasites) are at higher risk for iron deficiency. High intake of calcium (for example in kids who drink a ton of milk) can interfere with iron absorption as well, along with commonly used medications such as antacids and proton-pump inhibitors for gastroesophageal reflux disease.

While we are used to thinking of low iron levels as causing anemia due to red blood cells’ requirement for iron as a part of hemoglobin, iron is also desperately needed for the nerves and brain. Severe iron deficiency in young children can cause irreversible damage to cognition and result in lower IQ and developmental delays, particularly during a critical period of human development in utero and up to 16 months of age.

Even in adults the first symptoms of iron deficiency are often neurologic, as those affected will frequently complain of fatigue, brain fog, and also restless legs causing insomnia. Pica, the odd behavioral compulsion to eat nonnutritive foods such as dirt or clay, is extremely common in areas of the world where iron deficiency is prevalent. In the developed world, pica is rare but still occurs in children, pregnant women, and among other groups at higher risk for iron deficiency including those who have had gastric bypass. Non-neurologic symptoms of iron deficiency include pallor, generalized weakness, and higher than usual heart rate along with shortness of breath, particularly with exertion.

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Association between psychiatric disorders and iron deficiency anemia among children and adolescents: a nationwide population-based study



A great deal of evidence has shown that iron is an important component in cognitive, sensorimotor, and social-emotional development and functioning, because the development of central nervous system processes is highly dependent on iron-containing enzymes and proteins. Deficiency of iron in early life may increase the risk of psychiatric morbidity.


Utilizing the National Health Insurance Database from 1996 to 2008, children and adolescents with a diagnosis of IDA were identified and compared with age and gender-matched controls (1:4) in an investigation of the increased risk of psychiatric disorders.


A total of 2957 patients with IDA, with an increased risk of unipolar depressive disorder (OR = 2.34, 95% CI = 1.58 ~ 3.46), bipolar disorder (OR = 5.78, 95% CI = 2.23 ~ 15.05), anxiety disorder (OR = 2.17, 95% CI = 1.49 ~ 3.16), autism spectrum disorder (OR = 3.08, 95% CI = 1.79 ~ 5.28), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (OR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.29 ~ 2.17), tic disorder (OR = 1.70, 95% CI = 1.03 ~ 2.78), developmental delay (OR = 2.45, 95% CI = 2.00 ~ 3.00), and mental retardation (OR = 2.70, 95% CI = 2.00 ~ 3.65), were identified. A gender effect was noted, in that only female patients with IDA had an increased OR of bipolar disorder (OR = 5.56, 95% CI = 1.98 ~ 15.70) and tic disorder (OR = 2.95, 95% CI = 1.27 ~ 6.86).


Iron deficiency increased the risk of psychiatric disorders, including mood disorders, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and developmental disorders. Further study is required to clarify the mechanism in the association between IDA and psychiatric disorder.

Keywords: Iron deficiency anemia, Psychiatric disorders, Comorbidity


According to the World Health Organization, iron deficiency (ID) is the most prevalent nutritional deficiency. A 30% prevalence of iron deficiency anemia (IDA), at a minimum, has been noted among children, adolescents, and women in non-industrialized countries, and ID is also the most prevalent nutritional deficiency in industrialized countries [14]. ID, defined by two or more abnormal measurements (serum ferritin, transferrin saturation, erythrocyte protoporphyrin), is insidious and uneasily detected by patients themselves and may not develop significant clinical symptoms [14]. IDA is characterized by a defect in hemoglobin synthesis owing to significant ID, resulting in the reduced capacity of the red blood cells to deliver oxygen to body cells and tissues, and many clinical symptoms, such as pale conjunctiva, shortness of breath, dizziness, and lethargy [14]. The main risk factors for IDA and ID include a low intake of iron, poor absorption of iron from diets, chronic loss of iron (i.e., ulcer, metrorrhagia), and some specific periods of life when iron requirements are especially high, such as growth and pregnancy [14].

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Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis presenting as an acute psychotic episode misdiagnosed as dissociative disorder: a case report

  • Yuichiro ShimoyamaEmail author,
  • Osamu Umegaki,
  • Tomoyuki Agui,
  • Noriko Kadono and
  • Toshiaki Minami
JA Clinical Reports20162:22

DOI: 10.1186/s40981-016-0048-3

Received: 17 June 2016

Accepted: 26 August 2016

Published: 1 September 2016



In 2005, “anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor encephalitis,” a syndrome with prominent psychiatric symptoms, memory loss, decrease in level of consciousness, and central hypoventilation, was described in young women with ovarian teratomas and antibodies against an antigen highly expressed in the hippocampus. This report highlights the growing need for increased awareness among psychiatrists and other relevant medical professionals about this under-diagnosed disorder, which should be considered in differential diagnoses.

Case presentation

A 19-year-old female with no psychiatric history presented to a district general hospital with acute psychosis, emotional lability, memory deficit, fluctuating behavioral changes such as wandering and babbling, and seizure. She was admitted to the hospital with a provisional diagnosis of dissociative disorder. Soon after admission, she developed aspiration pneumonia and was intubated for mechanical ventilation. She was transferred to our hospital for further assessment and admitted to the intensive care unit for ventilation. Laboratory test results were unremarkable, but her EEG showed non-specific slowing with no epileptiform activity, and brain computed tomography (CT) and MRI also showed no remarkable findings. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) analysis showed an elevated white blood cell count (15 cells/hpf; 70 % lymphocytes), and blood serum and CSF samples tested positive for NMDA receptor antibodies. Abdominal contrast-enhanced CT revealed an ovarian teratoma, which was subsequently removed laparoscopically. Postoperative immunotherapy (steroids, intravenous immunoglobulin, and plasmapheresis) led to gradual improvement. On day 25 of hospitalization, neuropsychological assessment demonstrated that overall, she had returned to her premorbid level of functioning. Her condition substantially improved over several months of cognitive rehabilitation, and she was eventually discharged on day 75.


Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a form of autoimmune encephalitis, is commonly associated with tumors and often misdiagnosed. Diagnosis can be confirmed by detecting NMDA receptor antibodies in the patient’s serum or CSF. Management can be achieved with immunosuppressive therapy and tumor resection.

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A Case of Conversion Catatonia Misdiagnosed for 24 Years

Pauline K. Wiener, M.D.

INTRODUCTION Catatonia is a syndrome whose etiology may be both diverse and difficult to substantiate . Ms. H. is a 45-year-old black female with 18 previous psychiatric hospitalizations beginning at age 21 . A common characteristic to all hospitalizations was a catatonic presentation (i.e ., the patient was mute with marked muscular rigidity; she would refuse to eat or follow orders). In ea ch of her previous 18 hospitalizations, the patient was thought to be psychotic. It was found that each catatonic episode could be related to a severe psychological stressor. The patient’s illness never involved delusions, hallucinations or disturbances in thought form. Upon detailed evaluation of this patient’s history she was found to have symptoms consistent wit h conversion disorder. I report here the identification of a conversion disorder presenting as recurrent episodes of catatonia. Intramuscular lorazepam was found to be repeatedly successful in resolving the ca tatonic state .

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Some cases of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder could be misdiagnosed immune disorders

Some patients sectioned with conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder could instead have a treatable immune disorder, Oxford University scientists have found.

Currently, people experiencing psychosis are often thought to be suffering from mental disorder and are treated as such with medication and psychotherapy.

But the research, published yesterday in the Lancet psychiatry journal, suggests that some of these patients could in fact be treated with immunosuppressant drugs.

Scientists studied 228 patients who had visited mental health service sites across England having experienced psychosis for the first time.

They took blood samples from each of the patients and found that three per cent of them had antibodies that attack the NMDA receptor, which allows brain cells to communicate with each other.

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