Psychiatric Symptoms in Patients With Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease in Germany

Background: Psychiatric symptoms in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) are still not sufficiently evaluated.

Aim: To describe psychiatric symptoms in sCJD with respect to molecular subtype.

Method: Patients in this retrospective study were classified according to established diagnostic criteria. 248 sCJD patients with known molecular subtype were recruited from January 1993 to December 2004 and investigated. Psychiatric symptoms were defined according to Möller and colleagues and the AMDP system (Study Group for Methods and Documentation in Psychiatry) and were collected by direct examination by study physicians or extracted from medical documentation. Our data were compared with published data on variant CJD (vCJD).

Results: Psychiatric symptoms were common in sCJD patients (90%) and mostly found already at the disease onset (agitation in 64% of the patients, hallucinations in 45%, anxiety in 50%, depression in 37%). All psychiatric symptoms but illusions were found early in the disease course. Psychiatric symptoms in sCJD were less frequent than in vCJD.

Conclusions: We provide the first detailed analysis of psychiatric symptoms in a large group of patients with sCJD with respect to differences concerning frequency and time point of occurrence of psychiatric symptoms between molecular subtypes. These data suggest that psychiatric symptoms occurring early in the disease course are common not only in vCJD but also in other CJD types.

J Clin Psychiatry 2015;76(9):1209–1215

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.13m08915