OBJECTIVE: To determine the frequency and features of psychiatric morbidity in a cross section of 38 outpatients with neurocysticercosis. METHODS: Diagnosis of neurocysticercosis was established by CT, MRI, and CSF analysis. Psychiatric diagnoses were made by using the present state examination and the schedule for affective disorders and schizophrenia-lifetime version; cognitive state was assessed by mini mental state examination and Strub and Black's mental status examination. RESULTS: Signs of psychiatric disease and cognitive decline were found in 65.8 and 87.5% of the cases respectively. Depression was the most frequent psychiatric diagnosis (52.6%) and 14.2% of the patients were psychotic. Active disease and intracranial hypertension were associated with higher psychiatric morbidity, and previous history of mood disorders was strongly related to current depression. Other variables, such as number and type of brain lesions, severity of neuropsychological deficits, epilepsy, and use of steroids did not correlate with mental disturbances in this sample. CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatric abnormalities, particularly depression syndromes, are frequent in patients with neurocysticercosis. Although regarded as a rare cause of dementia, mild cognitive impairment may be a much more prevalent neuropsychological feature of patients with neurocysticercosis. The extent to which organic mechanisms related to brain lesions may underlie the mental changes is yet unclear, although the similar sex distribution of patients with and without depression, as well as the above mentioned correlations, provide further evidence of the part played by organic factors in the cause of these syndromes.
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