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General medical disorders with psychiatric implications 

General medical disorders with psychiatric implications
General medical disorders with psychiatric implications

Erik J. Garcia

and Warren J. Ferguson



Two new boxes on medications associated with delirium and mood disorders.

Updated on 28 September 2017. The previous version of this content can be found here.
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date: 28 June 2022

Traditionally the domain of consultation/ liaison psychiatry, the challenge of recognizing and then appropriately treating the psychiatric complications of general medical disorders requires thoughtful planning and attention in corrections. Medical conditions that have psychiatric symptoms represent a significant diagnostic dilemma, particularly in the correctional health setting. Over half of the inmates in the United States have symptoms of a major mental illness, but the pervasiveness of substance use disorders, the increasing prevalence of elderly inmates, and limited access to a patient’s past medical and psychiatric records all contribute to the challenge of discerning when a psychiatric presentation results from an underlying medical condition. One early study underscored this challenge, noting that 46% of the patients admitted to community psychiatric wards had an unrecognized medical illness that either caused or exacerbated their psychiatric illness. A more recent study observed that 2.8% of admissions to inpatient psychiatry were due to unrecognized medical conditions. Emergency room medical clearance of patients presenting for psychiatric admission has revealed an increased risk for such underlying medical conditions among patients with any of five characteristics: elderly, a history of substance abuse, no prior history of mental illness, lower socioeconomic status, or significant preexisting medical illnesses. This chapter examines several of these risk groups and focuses on the presenting symptoms of delirium, mood disorders, and psychosis and the underlying medical conditions that can mimic or exacerbate them.

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