First reported case of 'Brexit-triggered psychosis'

2 October 2019, 08:43

A man has been diagnosed with Brexit psychosis, according to the BMJ
A man has been diagnosed with Brexit psychosis, according to the BMJ. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

A doctor has warned that political upheaval can cause mental health problems after he treated the first reported case of Brexit-triggered psychosis.

A male patient suffered hallucinations and delusions when his mental health "deteriorated rapidly" following the EU referendum results in 2016.

Dr Mohammad Zia Ul Haq Katshu, who treated the patient, has warned that political events can act as “major psychological stressors” in his article, published in BMJ Case Reports.

He also became paranoid about racial incidents and was admitted to a psychiatric ward.

The patient, in his forties, also said he felt ashamed to be British.

Whilst in hospital, the man attempted to "burrow" through the floor with his hands to "get the hell out of this place."

He said he was being spied on and believed the radio was talking directly to him.

Dr Katshu stated: “His wife reported that since the EU referendum results were declared on 24 June 2016, he started spending more time putting his thoughts across on social media."

"He found it difficult to reconcile with the political events happening around him. He became increasingly worried about racial incidents. His sleep deteriorated.”

Dr Katshu reported that the patient said: “I was looking at the electoral map of voting for the EU. I am in a constituency that reflects an opinion that is not for me.”

He added: “His mental health had deteriorated rapidly following the announcement of the results, with significant concerns about Brexit."

“He presented as agitated, confused and thought disordered. He had auditory hallucinations, and paranoid, referential, misidentification and bizarre delusions.”

The man told doctors he felt "ashamed to be British"
The man told doctors he felt "ashamed to be British". Picture: PA

The man also reported experiencing family stress around the time of his illness, and it is thought that this and work related pressures were also contributing factors.

He was diagnosed with acute schizophrenia-like psychotic disorder, a form of acute and transient psychotic disorder (ATPD).

The patient described the episode as “intense periods of accelerated thinking, of being distracted and consumed by my own thoughts, and of a series of theatrical episodes of which I am at the centre”.

He recovered completely within a fortnight after a brief admission and treatment with anti-psychotic drug olanzapine.

It has been reported that he has no family history of mental health problems, history of alcohol or substance misuse, or physical health issues barring mildly impaired hearing in one ear, although he had experienced a similar episode 13 years as a result of work related stress.

He has remained well up to June 2019, when doctors last had contact with him.

Previous surveys have shown that concerns over political events such as the future of the US after the 2016 presidential elections and the Brexit referendum were significant sources of stress for a lot of people.