Case report: psychosis in an adolescent with sickle cell disease

Case Report: Psychosis in an adolescent with sickle cell disease
Muideen O Bakare
– Correspondence: Muideen O Bakare mobakare2000@yahoo. com
Author Affiliations
Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, New Haven Enugu, Enugu State, Nigeria
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2007, 1:6 doi:10.1186/1753-2000-1-6


Anxiety and depression are well documented complications of adjustment in sickle cell disease (SCD), but psychosis as a direct complication of or adjustment in SCD is uncommon. This article reports a case of psychosis in an adolescent with SCD. It advocates for further study on the relationship between psychosis and brain tissue silent-infarcts in these patients and the urge for alertness on the part of health care professionals regarding a holistic approach to the management of these children and adolescents with SCD.

Case presentation

Reasons for evaluation

O. J, a seventeen year old male adolescent presented at the psychiatric outpatient facility of Federal Psychiatric Hospital, Calabar, Nigeria with a second episode of mental illness. He is a known sickle cell disease (SCD) patient with Hemoglobin genotype Hb. SS from South-south region of Nigeria. He was single and of Christian faith. He had just completed his high school education. He was brought by the father and an elder sister to the psychiatric out-patient facility on account of being talkative, verbal and physical aggression, poor sleep, accusing house help of witchcraft and refusal to eat his meals, believing they had been poisoned.

History of psychiatric and general medical illness

He was apparently well until 4 weeks prior to presentation when he was noticed to be talkative and often talked out of the theme of discussion. He was easily provoked and agitated. He had physically fought the house-help on account of “discovering” her to be a witch and shouting “blood of Jesus”.

He had seen so many small children who were alien to the family members in their apartment, this O. J attributed to mean other members of the witchcraft society. He also saw other members of the family as being small in size in his perception while he was growing taller in size in comparison to them. He had not been sleeping adequately most part of the night. When not asleep he would be found talking to himself, praying excessively and reading the Bible. He complained that people around him knew what he was thinking without telling them. He admitted to hearing his thoughts being spoken aloud. He refused to eat the meals prepared at home, believing that the meals were poisoned and that he might be inflicted with witchcraft on eating. There were no associated depressive symptoms but he had expressed suicidal ideation in the past usually during periods of bone pain crises, however there was no definitive suicidal plan. The first episode of mental illness occurred at age fifteen and was characterized by poor sleep, visual hallucination, persecutory belief and easy irritability.

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Case report: psychosis in an adolescent with sickle cell disease