A teenage boy who was initially hospitalized for a mild case of COVID-19 developed severe psychosis just days later.
The unnamed 16-year-old, who was not vaccinated, was admitted to a hospital in the UK after experiencing difficulty breathing related to a coronavirus infection — though doctors deemed oxygen therapy would not be necessary, and he was discharged with antibiotics, according to a case study report published in the American Academy of Pediatrics medical journal.
As his psychological illness took hold, he — perhaps unknowingly — echoed the sentiments of many an online conspiracy theorist, expressing concerns about the “government coming for him.”
The teen was reportedly “normally fit and well,” with no previous personal or family history of mental illness, when he began to exhibit strange behavior, just three days after he was discharged from the hospital, leading to his re-admittance for an apparent mental health crisis.
Family members told doctors that he was suddenly paranoid and acting out of character — speaking maniacally, swearing at his parents, removing his clothes at inappropriate times and making strange gestures.
Nearly upon arrival, the patient broke a glass door at the hospital as he attempted to break out, believe the hospital staff was trying to poison him — and furthermore expressed suicidal thoughts of his won. He also refused to allow doctors near for examination as he feared they would attempt to kill him.
During clinical observation, doctors found the teenager would “stare at the ceiling,” believing he could receive messages from a supernatural source, and that he possessed special powers that had been “deleted” by the government, who was now “coming for him.”
Meanwhile, he insisted he could read the minds of some eight to 12 people in the room with him — who were not there.
After being diagnosed with acute psychosis caused by COVID-19, the teen was required to remain hospitalized for 28 days under the UK’s Mental Health Act — after which he would have been allowed to leave, though he voluntarily remained for over a month while taking antipsychotic medication.
Doctors said he became “calmer” and improved with antipsychotic therapy.
By the time he was discharged, the teen was not experiencing any psychotic symptoms, and lucid enough to understand that he had developed psychotic illness due to COVID. He was advised to continue to medication for six months after his admission.
The patient has since ceased therapy following significant weight gain brought on by his drug regime — though his symptoms have yet to return.
There have been cases of psychosis in adults with COVID, but few reports in teenagers.
The journal noted psychotic symptoms with visual and auditory hallucinations may develop as a later side-effect of COVID which has infected the brain, and should be “recognized and acted on promptly.”