Steroids & Bipolar Disorder
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Q:  Steroids & Bipolar Disorder

Can an allergic reaction to a steroid help set off someone to be bipolar? My grandmother about one year ago had a allergic reaction to a steroid and she had all the symptoms of the bipolar disorder. Just recently her nurse prescribe a low dosage of a steroid and she had the same reaction. She goes from a depression stage to a manic stage. Can this even be the bipolar disorder?  Thank you for your time.


Dear Ms. B' -- 
This is probably not an "allergic reaction" as such, but rather, as you were guessing, symptoms we could probably accurately call "bipolar symptoms" brought on by the steroid medication.  This is quite common, well-recognized as being caused by steroids, and often treated while the symptoms are present just as we would treat "bipolar disorder" that was not associated with steroids.  Sometimes when the steroids simply must be continued for other medical reasons, we simply have to treat those symptoms.  But usually the best approach is to stop the steroid, if at all possible, and probably gradually if it's been going for more than a few days, then look to see if any symptoms remain.  

Dr. Phelps

Published May, 2003


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