Psychiatric symptoms due to infectious and autoimmune-mediated central nervous system disorders: can brain MRI help to solve the riddle?

Danai Eleni Stefanou, Eleni Lazaridou, Demetrios Exarhos, Ioannis Kalogeropoulos


A wide spectrum of organic diseases, including endocrine, metabolic and neurological disorders, may be the underlying cause of secondary psychiatric disorders. The diagnostic algorithm of a patient presenting with newly manifested psychiatric symptoms in the emergency department, entails exclusion of possible organic disease as underlying cause of psychiatric symptomatology and relies on neurological evaluation, cerebrospinal fluid analyses and brain imaging. Brain magnetic resonance imaging is an indispensable diagnostic modality for the differentiation between primary and secondary psychiatric disorders. In this article, we focus on the differential diagnosis and MRI findings of infectious and immune-mediated central nervous system disorders in patients presenting with newly manifested psychiatric symptoms. We emphasise that accurate and prompt diagnosis of secondary psychiatric disorders is crucial in order to optimise treatment and improve clinical prognosis.


Brain MRI; Psychiatric symptoms; Encephalitis; Infectious diseases; Autoimmune

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