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What can cause cancer patients to attempt suicide? Thiamine deficiency mimicking the symptoms of major depressive disorder
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 27 July 2023
Thiamine deficiency (TD) presents with various physical and psychiatric symptoms, but no cases with depression-like symptoms have been reported.
We report a patient with cancer who appeared to attempt suicide as a consequence of depressive mood likely related to TD.
The patient was a 58-year-old woman diagnosed with recurrent endometrial cancer, with lung metastasis and pelvic dissemination. The patient apparently attempted suicide was referred to the psycho-oncology department.
At the time of the examination, major depressive disorder was suspected based on her mental symptoms, but when thiamine was administered intravenously in response to her poor dietary intake, her palpitations, dyspnea, anorexia, and insomnia improved, and her suicidal ideation disappeared at her reexamination 1 hour later after thiamine administration.
It is likely that the observed palpitations, dyspnea, anorexia, and insomnia, as well as the severe depression and the attempted suicide, which were thought to be physical symptoms associated with depression, were actually related to TD. Suicidal ideation and attempted suicide are conspicuous as psychiatric symptoms. However, in such cases, rather than simply starting treatment for depression, it is necessary to consider reversible TD as a cause of these symptoms and perform differential diagnosis to confirm the physical illness.
- Case Report
- © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press.