Infliximab, an anti-inflammatory agent, is used to treat various autoimmune disorders. There are at least 3 reports of severe psychiatric adverse effects of the drug, including suicidal behaviors in adults and psychosis in adult and adolescent patients. We report a case of an adolescent who developed depression and suicidal behaviors shortly after beginning infliximab. Although there have been reports of adolescents developing acute psychosis shortly after starting infliximab, this is, to our knowledge, the first report of adolescent suicidal behavior in the setting of infliximab treatment.
We describe a patient’s presentation and clinical course, as well as existing reports of adverse psychiatric effects of infliximab.
A 16-year-old male with a 2-year history of disabling symptoms and complications of Crohn’s disease was initiated on a trial of infliximab. Within days of the first infliximab infusion, he experienced symptoms of depression, which intensified over weeks and resulted in a serious suicide attempt. The patient was treated with fluoxetine, melatonin, and psychotherapy, which effectively managed his infliximab-induced depressive disorder with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Posttreatment, he tolerated additional infliximab infusions without the recurrence of psychiatric symptoms.
Treatment with infliximab may rarely and suddenly cause severe and potentially life-threatening psychiatric symptoms. Therefore, youth with chronic illnesses considered for infliximab treatment should be screened for preexisting, as well as for a family history of, psychiatric disorders and suicidal behavior.