Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
Home | About us | Current Issue | Archives | Ahead of Print | Submission | Instructions | Subscribe | Advertise | Contact | Login 
    Users online: 1026 Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size Print this article Email this article Bookmark this page


    Advanced search

    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Case report

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded170    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 4    

Recommend this journal


 Table of Contents    
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 395-398
Psychosis in an adolescent with Wilson's disease: A case report and review of the literature

1 Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Hepatology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India

Click here for correspondence address and email

Date of Web Publication8-Dec-2014


Neuropsychiatric manifestations are common in Wilson's disease and mainly include extrapyramidal and cerebellar symptoms. Presentations with psychotic symptoms have been described less frequently. In this report we present the case of a young boy with Wilson's disease who developed psychotic symptoms. A 12-year-old boy was diagnosed with Wilson's disease on the basis of the physical examination findings and low ceruloplasmin levels (8.1 mg/dl). After 2 weeks of being diagnosed with Wilson's disease, he developed an acute onset illness, characterized by delusion of persecution, fearfulness, hypervigilence and decreased sleep. These symptoms were not associated with any confusion, clouding of consciousness, hallucinations and affective symptoms. There was no past or family history of psychosis. One week after the onset of the symptoms he was prescribed tab penicillamine, initially 250 mg/day, which was increased to 500 mg/day after 3 days. After increase in the dose of penicillamine, his psychiatric symptoms worsened and led to hospitalization. A diagnosis of organic delusional disorder (F06.2) due to Wilson's disease was considered. Tab risperidone 1 mg/day was started, and the dose of penicillamine was reduced with which symptoms resolved. Whenever a young adolescent develops psychosis, especially of delusional type, the possibility of Wilson's disease must be considered.

Keywords: Psychosis, Wilson′s disease, adolescent

How to cite this article:
Grover S, Sarkar S, Jhanda S, Chawla Y. Psychosis in an adolescent with Wilson's disease: A case report and review of the literature . Indian J Psychiatry 2014;56:395-8

How to cite this URL:
Grover S, Sarkar S, Jhanda S, Chawla Y. Psychosis in an adolescent with Wilson's disease: A case report and review of the literature . Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2014 [cited 2022 Dec 9];56:395-8. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Wilson disease is a metabolic disorder involving copper metabolism and is associated with abnormal liver functions. It occurs more frequently in males and usually between the ages of 6 and 20 years. Neuropsychiatric and behavioral disturbances are commonly reported in patients with Wilson's disease with lifetime prevalence estimated to be in the range of 20-100%. [1],[2] The most common psychiatric manifestations in patients with Wilson's disease include sudden and changeable mood swings, anger outbursts, personality changes, depression, anxiety and cognitive impairment. [1],[2]

Compared to other psychiatric manifestations, psychotic disorders are less commonly reported. In the initial description of 12 cases of the disease, Wilson described presence of schizophrenia-like psychosis in two of his cases. [3] However, over the years the accumulating data suggests that prevalence of schizophreniform disorders, catatonia, and hallucinations in patients with Wilson's disease are similar to that seen in the general population. [4],[5] However, the prevalence of psychosis and catatonia is higher in patients with neurological manifestations of Wilson's disease. [6]

Most of the literature, describing psychiatric manifestations in patients with Wilson's disease is limited to young adults, with occasional case series/reports describing psychiatric manifestations in children and adolescents. [7],[8] In this report, we present the case of a boy who developed psychotic features, within few days of being diagnosed with Wilson's Disease and review the existing literature with respect to psychosis in patients with Wilson's disease.

   Case report Top

A 12-year-old boy presented to the hospital with symptoms of abdominal distension associated with dull aching continuous pain for 1 month. About a week following the onset of pain in the abdomen, parents noticed changes in the patient's behavior. He developed irritability, delusion of reference, delusion of persecution associated with marked dysfunction in the form of refusal to attend school, secondary to the psychotic symptoms. Over the next few days, the psychotic symptoms became more pervasive and systematized; following which he was found to keep all his belonging under lock and key. Additionally he developed lability of mood and reduced appetite. All these symptoms were not associated with any altered sensorium, hallucinations in any modality, thought disorder, depressive cognitions, cognitive disturbances, head injury or substance abuse. There was no family history of any psychiatric illness and developmental milestones were reportedly normal.

He was brought to the hospital primarily for the continuous abdominal pain. During the initial evaluation, his routine investigations in the form of hemogram, renal function test and liver function test did not reveal any abnormality. However, ultrasound examination of the abdomen revealed parenchymal liver disease with portal hypertension and ascites. In view of the evidence of parenchymal liver disease, serum ceruloplasmin was estimated and was found to be low, that is, 8.1 mcg/dl (normal range 25-63 ug/dl). Serum copper level and total urine copper level were also estimated, reports of which were consistent with a diagnosis of Wilson's disease. Slit lamp examination of the eyes showed the presence of Kayser-Fleischer ring. On the basis of clinical manifestations and laboratory findings, a diagnosis of Wilson's disease was made. He was started on tab penicillamine 250 mg along with zinc acetate 150 mg/day. After a week, tab penicillamine was increased to 500 mg/day, with which his psychiatric symptoms worsened. In addition to the above-mentioned symptoms, the child became very agitated and disinhibited. The abnormal behavior led to the admission into the hepatology unit of the Institute, and psychiatric consultation was sought.

On mental status examination, the boy was found to be conscious and oriented to time, place and person. He had psychomotor agitation, was anxious and fearful. He expressed delusion of reference and persecution. In view of the clinical picture, a diagnosis of organic delusional disorder (F06.2) due to Wilson's disease was considered. As there was some evidence for an increase in psychotic symptoms after increasing the dose of penicillamine, the dose of same was reduced to 250 mg/day. However, this did not lead to abatement of psychotic symptoms and required use of tab risperidone 1 mg/day, with which, within a week the psychotic symptoms resolved, and he was discharged from the hospital.

   Discussion Top

Wilson's disease is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder that is caused by the mutation of the ATP7B gene. [9] This results in abnormalities of copper metabolism and accumulation of copper in various tissues. The disease primarily affects the liver and the central nervous system. The hepatic presentation may be in the form of elevated transaminase levels, chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis; while neurological manifestations may be in the form of tremors, choreiform movements, dysarthria, gait disturbances, etc.

Psychiatric manifestations are common with Wilson's disease and occur in 20-100% of the cases. [1],[2],[5],[10] The psychiatric manifestations span a range of diagnostic entities and most commonly include affective and personality changes. [2] Psychosis and cognitive impairment are other less common forms of presentation. [2] These manifestations are common in the adolescent and well as adult age groups. Patients with primarily hepatic disease usually present earlier than those with neurological disease. [11] The psychiatric manifestations are common at the initial presentation of the disease but seldom are the main cause for treatment seeking. [12],[13]

Compared to other psychiatric manifestations, psychosis is less commonly described in patients with Wilson's disease. The commonly reported psychotic manifestations include that of schizophrenia like psychosis and of delusional disorder. A study from India, which evaluated 350 patients with Wilson's disease, reported psychosis in three cases only, which was of schizophreniform type. [14] Other studies have also reported low prevalence of psychosis, viz., 1 out of 31, [15] 8 out of 71 cases, [16] 3 cases of organic delusional disorder out of 45 patients, [4] 2 out of 195 cases [5] and 2 out of 42 cases. [2] However, certain other studies which have reported about the various psychiatric manifestations have not reported a single case of psychosis. [10] Overall the prevalence of psychosis in patients with Wilson's disease varies from 0% to 11.3%.

Since, the early description of Wilson's disease, few case reports have documented the occurrence of psychosis in patients with Wilson's disease. [17],[18],[19],[20] However, over the last two decades, there is the proliferation of case reports/series describing psychosis in patients with Wilson's disease. [2],[4],[7],[8],[10],[11],[12],[15],[16],[21],[22],[23],[24],[25],[26],[27]

A case report described a patient with Wilson's disease who had psychotic episodes at the age of 18, 22 and 23 and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. However, the diagnosis of Wilson's disease was made after 12 years of the first episode of psychosis. [21] Similarly, a recent case report described a patient who was treated as a case of schizophrenia for 10 years before being diagnosed with Wilson's disease. [22] One report described 3 cases with psychiatric manifestations that were usually misinterpreted as schizophrenia-like disease and lead to delay in the diagnosis. Diagnosis of Wilson's disease was confirmed on the basis of magnetic resonance imaging findings which showed asymmetric cerebral white matter lesions in the frontal lobe. [16] A case series documenting disturbance of circadian rhythm of temperature, pulse, and blood pressure in Wilson's disease described two cases of schizophrenia like psychosis. [28] Another report described a patient with psychosis who developed movement disorders with the use of haloperidol and was later confirmed to have Wilson's disease. [23] Spyridi et al. [24] described a case of delusional disorder presenting with non-persecutory delusional disorder and alcohol abuse in the absence of neurological signs when he discontinued his treatment of Wilson's disease which he was receiving for duration of 3 years. A case report described the resolution of subchronic hallucinatory psychosis, behavioral symptoms and mood disturbances in a patient with Wilson's disease after liver transplantation. [25] With regards to treatment of psychosis, two case reports described the use of electroconvulsive therapy in a patient with psychosis and Wilson's disease. [29],[30] Another case report described the development of akinetic-rigid syndrome with use of risperidone. [31] Whereas two reports described improvement in psychosis with use of penicillamine and reduction in serum copper levels. [26],[27]

What is evident from these case reports/series is that in most cases psychosis is diagnosed prior to diagnosis of Wilson's disease, and the latter is diagnosed later on when the patient developed additional symptoms of Wilson's disease or developed movement related side effects with antipsychotics.

In contrast to many of the previous reports the index case, developed psychosis with onset of abdominal manifestations of Wilson's disease. However, in contrast to some of the previous reports, the index case developed mild worsening of psychosis with increase in the dose of penicillamine. This could be possibly due to worsening of the primary psychiatric illness or may be due to penicillamine. However, the symptoms of psychosis reduced to a certain extent with reduction in the dose of penicillamine, and this possibly suggests an association between the two. But it is also possible that the reduction of psychotic symptoms may be due to the actual effect of penicillamine on serum copper levels. Some of the previous studies support the later hypothesis, which suggest an improvement in psychosis with chelation therapy. [26],[27]

Index patient responded to low dose of antipsychotic medication, and this suggests that the use of the chelating agent possibly reduces the need for antipsychotic in patients with Wilson's disease as has been reported in some of the previous reports too. [17]

The case reflects that psychotic symptoms, though rare but may be a presenting feature in patients with Wilson's disease. As is evident from the literature, Wilson's disease must be considered as a possibility in patients who develop psychosis at a young age and the patients must be adequately investigated for the same, which should include ultrasound abdomen, serum ceruloplasmin levels, serum copper level and total urine copper level. Further, when diagnosed with psychosis associated with Wilson's disease, patients should be treated with low dose antipsychotics with close monitoring for extrapyramidal side effects.

   References Top

Akil M, Brewer GJ. Psychiatric and behavioral abnormalities in Wilson's disease. Adv Neurol 1995;65:171-8.  Back to cited text no. 1
Akil M, Schwartz JA, Dutchak D, Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan V, Brewer GJ. The psychiatric presentations of Wilson's disease. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 1991;3:377-82.  Back to cited text no. 2
Wilson SK. Progressive lenticular degeneration: A familial nervous disease associated with cirrhosis of the liver. Brain 1912;34:295-507.  Back to cited text no. 3
Oder W, Grimm G, Kollegger H, Ferenci P, Schneider B, Deecke L. Neurological and neuropsychiatric spectrum of Wilson's disease: A prospective study of 45 cases. J Neurol 1991;238:281-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
Dening TR, Berrios GE. Wilson's disease. Psychiatric symptoms in 195 cases. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1989;46:1126-34.  Back to cited text no. 5
Brewer GJ, Yuzbasiyan-Gurkan V. Wilson disease. Medicine (Baltimore) 1992;71:139-64.  Back to cited text no. 6
Javed MA, Zia S, Ashraf S, Mehmood S. Neurological and neuropsychiatric spectrum of Wilson's disease in local population. Biomedica 2008;24:37-41.  Back to cited text no. 7
Amin R, Hasan R, Saha A, Hossain AR, Kahhar MA. Wilson's disease in a young girl with abnormal behavior. J Bangladesh Coll Phys Surg 2011;29:170-3.  Back to cited text no. 8
Ala A, Walker AP, Ashkan K, Dooley JS, Schilsky ML. Wilson's disease. Lancet 2007;369:397-408.  Back to cited text no. 9
Shanmugiah A, Sinha S, Taly AB, Prashanth LK, Tomar M, Arunodaya GR, et al. Psychiatric manifestations in Wilson's disease: A cross-sectional analysis. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 2008;20:81-5.  Back to cited text no. 10
Merle U, Schaefer M, Ferenci P, Stremmel W. Clinical presentation, diagnosis and long-term outcome of Wilson's disease: A cohort study. Gut 2007;56:115-20.  Back to cited text no. 11
Stremmel W, Meyerrose KW, Niederau C, Hefter H, Kreuzpaintner G, Strohmeyer G. Wilson disease: Clinical presentation, treatment, and survival. Ann Intern Med 1991;115:720-6.  Back to cited text no. 12
Dening TR. The neuropsychiatry of Wilson's disease: A review. Int J Psychiatry Med 1991;21:135-48.  Back to cited text no. 13
Srinivas K, Sinha S, Taly AB, Prashanth LK, Arunodaya GR, Janardhana Reddy YC, et al. Dominant psychiatric manifestations in Wilson's disease: A diagnostic and therapeutic challenge! J Neurol Sci 2008;266:104-8.  Back to cited text no. 14
Kumar R, Datta S, Jayaseelan L, Gnanmuthu C, Kuruvilla K. The psychiatric aspects of wilson's disease-a study from a neurology unit. Indian J Psychiatry 1996;38:208-11.  Back to cited text no. 15
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Huang CC, Chu NS. Psychosis and epileptic seizures in Wilson's disease with predominantly white matter lesions in the frontal lobe. Parkinsonism Relat Disord 1995;1:53-8.  Back to cited text no. 16
Jayaswal SK, Lal P, Nepal MK, Wig NN. Wilson'S disease presenting with schizophrenia like psychosis: A case report. Indian J Psychiatry 1984;26:245-7.  Back to cited text no. 17
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Beard AW. The association of hepatolenticular degeneration with schizophrenia. A review of the literature and case report. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1959;34:411-28.  Back to cited text no. 18
Pierson H. Two types of Wilson's disease; hepato-lenticular degeneration; case reports. J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 1952;11:19-33.  Back to cited text no. 19
Gysin WM, Cooke ET. Unusual mental symptoms in a case of hepatolenticular degeneration. Dis Nerv Syst 1950;11:305-9.  Back to cited text no. 20
Saint-Laurent M. Schizophrenia and Wilson's disease. Can J Psychiatry 1992;37:358-60.  Back to cited text no. 21
Bidaki R, Zarei M, Mirhosseini SM, Moghadami S, Hejrati M, Kohnavard M, et al. Mismanagement of Wilson's disease as psychotic disorder. Adv Biomed Res 2012;1:61.  Back to cited text no. 22
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Jukic I, Titlic M, Tonkic A, Dodig G, Rogosic V. Psychosis and Wilson's disease: A case report. Psychiatr Danub 2006;18:105-7.  Back to cited text no. 23
Spyridi S, Diakogiannis I, Michaelides M, Sokolaki S, Iacovides A, Kaprinis G. Delusional disorder and alcohol abuse in a patient with Wilson's disease. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2008;30:585-6.  Back to cited text no. 24
Sorbello O, Riccio D, Sini M, Carta M, Demelia L. Resolved psychosis after liver transplantation in a patient with Wilson's disease. Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health 2011;7:182-4.  Back to cited text no. 25
McDonald LV, Lake CR. Psychosis in an adolescent patient with Wilson's disease: Effects of chelation therapy. Psychosom Med 1995;57:202-4.  Back to cited text no. 26
Modai I, Karp L, Liberman UA, Munitz H. Penicillamine therapy for schizophreniform psychosis in Wilson's disease. J Nerv Ment Dis 1985;173:698-701.  Back to cited text no. 27
Matarazzo EB. Psychiatric features and disturbance of circadian rhythm of temperature, pulse, and blood pressure in Wilson's disease. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 2002;14:335-9.  Back to cited text no. 28
Shah N, Kumar D. Wilson's disease, psychosis, and ECT. Convuls Ther 1997;13:278-9.  Back to cited text no. 29
Rodrigues AC, Dalgalarrondo P. Neuropsychiatric disturbances in Wilson's disease and use of electroconvulsive therapy: Case report. Arq Neuropsiquiatr 2003;61:876-80.  Back to cited text no. 30
Chroni E, Lekka NP, Tsibri E, Economou A, Paschalis C. Acute, progressive akinetic-rigid syndrome induced by neuroleptics in a case of Wilson's disease. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 2001;13:531-2.  Back to cited text no. 31

Correspondence Address:
Sandeep Grover
Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh 160 012
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.146530

Rights and Permissions

This article has been cited by
1 Multimodal magnetic resonance imaging analysis in the characteristics of Wilsonís disease: A case report and literature review
Yun Wang, Zejin Jia, Yuelei Lyu, Qian Dong, Shujuan Li, Wenli Hu
Open Life Sciences. 2021; 16(1): 793
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
2 Neuropsychiatric Atypical Manifestation in Wilson's Disease: A Case Report and Literature Review
Shubhashree Page, LIKHITA SHAIK, Romil Singh, Sawai Singh Rathore, Kaushal Shah
Cureus. 2020;
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
3 Nosology and Phenomenology of Psychosis in Movement Disorders
Malco Rossi, Nicole Farcy, Sergio E. Starkstein, Marcelo Merello
Movement Disorders Clinical Practice. 2020; 7(2): 140
[Pubmed] | [DOI]
4 Psychiatric comorbidity in Wilsonís disease
Gioia Mura, Paula C. Zimbrean, Luigi Demelia, Mauro G. Carta
International Review of Psychiatry. 2017; 29(5): 445
[Pubmed] | [DOI]