Q: Prednisone & Bipolar Disorder
My 33 year old son, Coby, has bipolar disorder. Although he had been
seen by many psychiatrists from 15 years of age to the present, a firm diagnosis
had never been made until last year as he also has OCD.
Coby has had three psychotic episodes. Two were related to prescribed
medications (prosac & effexor) and occurred during his late teens. His most
recent episode occurred last year and was quite severe. He visibly
decompensated over a period of several weeks, became paranoid and then manic.
While in the manic phase, he attempted suicide with a pistol that
malfunctioned. He then attempted 'suicide by cop'by shooting bird shot into the
ground when police came to help us with him. This resulted in our son being shot
by the police (through his hand)and 5 months in the local county jail. While in
jail we had Coby assessed by a forensic psychologist who readily diagnosed the
bipolar disorder. We were eventually able to get reduced bail in order to take
Coby to a well regardedPsychiatric Hospital here in Tulsa. Coby spent 11 days in
the adult stabalization unit and was again diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Since his discharge, he has been living in a residential care facilit y and
attends day treatment from 8-3 monday through friday. He has done well there
and has benefitted from mood stabalizers and group therapy.
However, Coby now faces a trial and is charged with assult with a deadly weapon
which if found guilty could result in a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.
The hardest thing for us, his parents, and for those that know our son is that
Coby has never been violent prior to this event. He is highly intelligent and
high functioning in relationship to his mental health condiditions. He tends to
be kind and considerate and is typically the peace maker with his group of long
term friends. During Coby's two previous (when a teenager)pychotic episodes his
symptoms included hearing voices, becomming highly energetic, and delusional but
no violent acts. He even became catatonic during the first episode.
So here is my question,
For three months prior to Coby's recent psychotic break, he had been stung by
wasps (on three seperate occassions) and had, for the first time, had highly
allergic responses resulting in trips to ER, and prednisone injections and
prednisone p.o. He also had three separate occassions of being bit by brown
recluse spiders and the last bite was at the base of his neck which became so
swollen it appeared to be another head. He was also treated for these bites
with prednisone and antibiotics. It was during the last few treatments that our
son became notably mentally unstable.
Since that time he has been his usual self both on and off medications, although
less anxious with meds.
One of his psychiatrists at Laureate Hospital felt that perhaps the prednisone
had triggered Coby's psychosis. I often wonder if it wasn't a combination of
spider venom and prednisone???
In any event, although I have read similar questions on your web site I was
interested in what you think. Is there any research about prednisone and
bipolar patients? It could help us with Coby's situation if we knew more about
how likely or unlikely is such a severe response to stings or prednisone.
I know this is a long letter. Thank you so much for your consideration about
our question. This web site is a great service to families and indivduals
living with bipolar disorder. We appreciate your ongoing efforts.
Dear Ms. L' --
Sorry for the delay in this reply. I hope it's either still in time or that
things have gone well legally for Coby. You may have seen the section of a page
on my website about
prednisone and bipolar disorder. That summarizes everything I've been able
to find so far ( just did a quick search for anything new; nothing much, just
this article by one of the same research groups, just showing that even low
doses for a short while can have an impact on mood:
Published February, 2007