- A teen who thought the government was “coming for him” was hospitalized with COVID psychosis.
- Family members noticed sudden changes in his behavior days after he was treated for COVID-19.
- The teen was treated with antipsychotics and made a full recovery.
Doctors who treated him said the teen, who was hospitalized for more than 28 days with psychosis after contracting COVID-19, had hallucinations and believed the government was “coming for him”.
Psychosis is when thoughts are so disturbed that people lose touch with reality. In a case report published in Pediatrics June 28, doctors said COVID-19 psychosis can occur in adults, often after severe infection, but there are fewer reports of its effect on children and teens. COVID-19 causes psychosis in any age group.
British doctors said the 16-year-old, before he developed psychosis, spent five days in hospital with COVID-19, and was discharged on antibiotics.
According to the case report, the unvaccinated teen did not need oxygen therapy when he was admitted to hospital with COVID-19, indicating that his condition was not serious.
The teen’s family noticed that his behavior changed after he contracted COVID-19
Three days later, the teen – who had no history of mental illness – was subsequently readmitted to the hospital
The family members noticed his behavior suddenly changed.
He was more anxious, stopped thinking when he spoke, used “unusual gestures”, swore to his parents – something that was out of his nature – and stripped his underwear. He also stared at the ceiling, saying he could see the messages, and said he had “special powers”.
Doctors said the teen – who thought the government was “coming for him” and medical tests would kill him – was paranoid and hallucinogenic. He heard voices telling him, “Everyone around the world is saying don’t let doctors do the exam.”
The boy also described a character from the computer game Fortnite, printed in the air, uttering unheard words.
He told doctors he could see 8 to 12 people in the room they were in, and thought he could read their minds. Doctors said he also contemplated suicide.
Doctors diagnosed him with acute psychosis caused by COVID-19 and held him under the Mental Health Act, which means a patient can be involuntarily hospitalized for up to 28 days. He stayed after 28 days voluntarily, and took antipsychotic medication during this time.
The teen made a full recovery after he started taking antipsychotics
Doctors said that when the teen was initially admitted to the hospital, he thought ward staffers were poisoning him, and on one occasion, smashed the glass of the ward’s door in an attempt to leave.
However, after more than 28 days of taking antipsychotics in the hospital, his symptoms improved and he was discharged home, where he continued to take the medications. After four months, he’s fully recovered and no longer needs treatment, they said.
Dr. Jonathan Komisar, an internist and psychiatrist at Duke University Hospital who regularly treats patients with COVID psychosis, told BuzzFeed News that COVID-19 psychosis was “extremely rare.”
He said, “You’re looking at a segment of patients with COVID. But should everyone be worried that they’re going to have COVID psychosis after being infected? They shouldn’t be open to the fact that things like this are happening.”