10 Bizarre Brain Disorders Often Mistaken For Psychiatric Conditions

In Western countries, there’s been an explosion in neurological diseases—including early-onset dementia—that can’t be explained by longer life spans. It turns out that some brain disorders have such bizarre symptoms that they’re sometimes mistaken for psychiatric conditions.

Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

demon

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For many patients, anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis—a recently discovered autoimmune disease that causes the brain to swell—initially presents psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations, violent outbursts, and delusions. Patients appear to be possessed by demons, and most of them will develop seizures and involuntary movements within a few days.

But the neurological symptoms may be subtle and easy to miss. Dr. Souhel Najjar, an anti-NMDA expert, believes that as many as 90 percent of these cases have been misdiagnosed. “There could be people in comas right now, or people stuck in psych wards, that have this disease and aren’t being treated properly,” said Emily Gavigan—an anti-NMDA patient—to CBS Eyewitness News.

One 24-year-old woman, Susannah Cahalan, spent over $1 million in hospital care with top doctors, but they repeatedly misdiagnosed her condition. She had seizures and hallucinations—grunting like an animal, she would kick and punch people. She thought newscasters were discussing her on TV. Then Dr. Najjar entered the scene and asked her to draw a clock face. When she drew all the numbers on one side, Dr. Najjar knew she had inflammation on the right side of her brain. Susannah was treated just in time to save her from a coma and death.

Although Susannah recovered with no brain damage, not everyone is so lucky. Even with treatment, approximately 7 percent of patients die, and others are left with mild to severe brain damage. Anti-NMDA can be treated with immunotherapy, but there’s no cure—only remission. A relapse requires more treatment.

Anti-NMDA has spurred Dr. Najjar to investigate other presumed psychiatric illnesses—such as bipolar disease, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia—to see if they, too, are actually physical illnesses caused by inflammation of the brain. Psychiatry, depression, immune system,  sleep, brain, health india, symptoms ,Psychiatry, depression, immune system,  sleep, brain, health india, symptoms ,Psychiatry, depression, immune system,  sleep, brain, health india, symptoms ,Psychiatry, depression, immune system,  sleep, brain, health india, symptoms ,

Othello Syndrome

jealous

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Othello syndrome (OS) is named after the Shakespearean character Othello, who killed his wife, Desdemona, because he believed that she was having an affair. OS patients develop the same stubborn delusions of suspicion and jealousy toward their spouses and constantly accuse them of infidelity. Some patients even have hallucinations of their spouse having sex with someone else.

OS usually begins around age 68, with about 77 percent of patients having a neurological disease affecting one of the brain’s frontal lobes—usually the right one. Sometimes, OS is brought on by the use of dopamine therapy for Parkinson’s disease. If that’s the cause, then reducing or stopping the medication may alleviate the symptoms of OS.

In Lewy body dementia (LBD), the symptoms of OS may continue (or even start) after the death of a spouse. LBD includes Parkinson’s disease and dementia caused by protein deposits—called Lewy bodies—in the nerve cells of your brain.

One 42-year-old man, who was being treated with dopamine agonists for Parkinson’s, began to insist on having frequent sex with his wife. Accusing her of infidelity, he obsessively stared at his driveway because he was convinced that a fictional lover was going to pick her up and have sex with her somewhere else. He lost thousands of dollars to sudden gambling impulses and couldn’t control his spending habit, either.

Also like Othello, OS patients can become dangerously violent. Men with OS have tried to strangle their wives or start fights with neighborhood men suspected of being their wives’ lovers.

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