Autoimmune psychosis

Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases that affect a wide range of body parts.…

Autoimmune diseases are sneaky because there’s no pathogen, trauma or other obvious problem. They are “zebras,” not horses. When I was age 16 in 1970, I noticed pinpoints of red dots on my inner forearms. These were blood leaking out of my capillaries. For unknown reasons, my spleen decided to eat all my blood platelets. I had ITP (idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, now called “immune thrombocytopenic purpura” since they discovered the immune cause after I had it). My spleen was removed and I got well. Many people aren’t as lucky.

The Covid-19 pandemic is bringing an awareness that a viral infection can over-activate the immune system. Many young patients died of a “cytokine storm,” an over-reaction of the immune system which then attacked the lungs and many other organs. Covid can also over-activate the brain’s immune system, causing usually-supportive glial cells to eat synapses.

Here is a new article about autoimmune psychosis. This is a novel idea, a paradigm shift of the origin of psychosis. It’s possible that some instances of psychosis may be caused by autoimmune attack. Nowadays, there are treatments for autoimmune diseases, but they are totally different from the drugs used to treat psychosis.…

**When the Body Attacks the Mind**

**A physiological theory of mental illness.**
**The Atlantic, by Moises Velasquez-Manoff**

**Autoimmune variants of encephalitis exist. Scientists have identified one that resulted when the immune system — perhaps triggered by common infections elsewhere in the body — accidentally attacked crucial receptors in the brain. Symptoms could resemble those of schizophrenia, but proper treatment didn’t involve antipsychotics. Instead, therapy was directed at the immune system. ...**

**In total, scientists have identified about two dozen others — including dementia-like conditions, epilepsies, and a Parkinson’s-like “stiff person” syndrome — and many experts suspect that more exist. Immunological abnormalities have been observed in patients with bipolar disorder and depression as well. Many of these disorders are treatable with aggressive immunotherapy....**

**Scientists are also increasingly interested in the link between depression and systemic inflammation, an immune-system response to infection or other potential triggers such as a lousy diet, obesity, chronic stress, or trauma. Studies suggest that about one-third of people diagnosed with depression have high levels of inflammation markers in their blood....** [end quote]

This suggests a simple, inexpensive, practical course of action.

When a person develops a psychiatric disorder, they should immediately have a blood test to check for inflammation and immune system abnormalities. If something pops up, treat the root cause, not the symptoms. That goes double for long-Covid patients who are likely to have virus-caused autoimmune problems.

That would save a lot of suffering…and also save a lot of money because psychiatric treatment is expensive.



Broadly, there are 3 classes of autoimmune disorders. But, there are disorders in addition to these three (see the link).

Immunodeficiency - HIV, The Boy in the Bubble

Autoimmune - Lupus, various arthritises, Virus induce Diabetes T1, etc, there are a bunch of ‘conditions’ that have been linked to viral infections. We’ve known about many of these viral Autoimmune disorders for 20 or 30 years.

Allergies - the immune system responds in an EXCESSIVE or INAPPROPRIATE way to some ‘allergen’ (aka faux pathogen, ie NOT PATHOGENIC) as if the allergen were a threat to the body. Poison ivy Urushiol, peanut butter proteins, bee/wasp stings, etc. IF the immune response is TOO EXCESSIVE, there is potentially anaphylactic shock - systemic edema, causing a massive drop in blood pressure to the point there’s no blood VOLUME (water volume) for the heart to ‘pump’ around the body/circulatory system.

immune system disorder…

A condition that affects the immune system. The immune system is made up of cells, tissues, and organs that help the body fight infections and other diseases.

Immunodeficiency disease occurs when a part of the immune system is missing or not working properly.
Autoimmune, disorders occur when the immune system recognizes its own tissues as foreign and attacks them.
Allergic disorders occur when the immune system overreacts to substances that are usually not harmful, such as pollen, molds, and certain foods.

Cancers of the immune system (such as leukemia and lymphoma) are also immune system disorders.




One of these autoimmune conditions is Hashimoto’s encephalitis, a very rare complication of Hashimoto’s, the biggest cause of thyroid dysfunction. It’s very rare though. I think that among the several thousand patient accounts I’ve read on the various thyroid self-help boards in recent years, there was a single poster who described having had that condition. I’ve really gotten into hormones and related topics. That’s what I’ve been spending my free time on rather than TMF :slight_smile:


A somewhat related “psychosis”-story from one of the self-help boards, told by a young woman:
She had been hyperthyroid as a teenager and had a total thyroidectomy (thyroid removal). Such patients then have to take levothyroxine (T4) for life, as without a thyroid they’re no longer able to produce the hormone. The doctors told her she had to take the T4, but they didn’t tell her what would happen if she didn’t. So, eventually, she just stopped (patients do crazy shit quite frequently). The thing with T4 is that it has a very long biological half-life, about 9 days if you’re hypothyroid. So nothing bad happened immediately. After several weeks, however, she started hallucinating and feeling really bad and went to the ER. This state is referred to as myxedema.

Part of any emergent psychiatric evaluation is a thyroid function test, because thyroid dysfunction can cause some very extreme psychiatric symptoms. There are three relevant thyroid-related hormones you can test - TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone, the “gas pedal” for the thyroid, which is produced by the pituitary gland), T4* (produced by the thyroid) and T3 (the active thyroid hormone, which is mostly converted from T4). Oftentimes, only TSH is tested. If TSH is high, there’s usually too little T4, if it’s low, there’s too much. To save money, you test only TSH and then you go on to test T4 if there’s an issue with TSH.

So that’s what they did. Unfortunately, the young woman didn’t only not have a thyroid, she also had some kind of damage to the pituitary. Under normal circumstances, given the fact that no T4 was being produced, her TSH would have been sky-high. But in this case, it was 2, which looked perfectly normal.
So they committed her to a mental health facility. It took quite a while (several weeks as I recall) until someone ran an fT4 test and figured it out. Her suffering must have been unimaginable.

*for most purposes, “free” T4 (fT4) and “free” T3 (fT3) are tested. This is the fraction of T4 and T3 that’s not bound to proteins.