Man hallucinates and ‘hears God’ whereas on antibiotics. What occurred?

A person’s notion of the world turned the wrong way up after he started taking antibiotics to deal with bacterial pneumonia, in accordance with a report of his case. Inside two days, the 50-year-old man — who had no psychiatric historical past and had by no means taken antibiotics in his complete life earlier than that time — skilled temper swings, turned irritable and commenced talking incoherently. Such behaviors are signs of mania, a situation characterised by an abnormally excessive degree of power and erratic ideas and behaviors. 

Upon being checked into an emergency psychiatric unit in Geneva, the person instructed psychiatrists that the evening after his first dose of antibiotics, he felt like he was dying and commenced experiencing auditory hallucinations that God was talking to him, saying that he had been chosen for a particular mission. These signs could be indicative of psychosis. 

Docs identified the person with antibiomania, a uncommon facet impact of remedy with antibiotics, in accordance with the case report, revealed within the journal BMC Psychiatry in August 2021. The time period “antibiomania” was coined in a 2002 evaluate revealed within the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology that examined case research involving antibiotic-related mania. 

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In keeping with Pascal Sienaert, a psychologist and psychiatrist at Catholic College of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium who was not concerned within the case report or the person’s care, the timeline of the person’s antibiotic consumption and subsequent manic signs suits with reported circumstances of antibiomania.

In a evaluate of antibiomania case research revealed in 2017 within the Journal of Affective Disorders, Sienaert and colleagues coated 37 case stories, collectively describing 47 circumstances of antibiomania in sufferers as younger as 3 years outdated, and one other 143 unpublished circumstances documented by the antagonistic drug response monitoring applications of the World Well being Group and the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration. 

“I’ve seen, in my very own expertise, a minimum of three circumstances, one with repeated episodes,” Sienaert instructed Dwell Science. “My colleagues, all of them have had some circumstances. So should you add up these numbers worldwide … there is definitely an under-report of circumstances.”

Sienaert and colleagues discovered that clarithromycin, one of many antibiotics medical doctors prescribed to the person within the case report, is among the mostly implicated antibiotics in antibiomania circumstances, together with the quinolone antibiotics ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin. 

“They had been essentially the most often implicated in inflicting mania, however they’re amongst the antibiotics which can be most used worldwide,” Sienaert stated. “My guess is that these antibiotics are essentially the most used worldwide, and due to this fact we see extra circumstances with these antibiotics [associated with antibiomania].”

The researchers additionally famous that antipsychotics had been used to deal with a number of the circumstances.

“Within the majority of circumstances, these antimanic brokers had been used,” Sienaert stated. “However once more, that does not imply that the manic episode would not have improved with out them. It’s common apply, should you see a mania rising, that you just use an antimanic agent to get the mania over as quickly as attainable.”

Whereas the person in Geneva in the end didn’t find yourself needing antipsychotics, medical doctors did prescribe him lorazepam, a medicine used to deal with anxiousness and seizures. The person’s case illustrates that completely different sorts of antibiotics can set off antibiomania. Initially, the person’s manic signs emerged after he took the antibiotic amoxicillin-clavulanic acid. As soon as he ceased remedy, the mania signs stopped. Nonetheless, when he began taking one other antibiotic, referred to as clarithromycin, to deal with the pneumonia, the mania signs returned, prompting him to cease antibiotic remedy once more.

Per week after stopping antibiotics, the person now not had manic signs, in accordance with the case report.


Whereas the precise mechanism of interplay between antibiotics and the central nervous system (which incorporates the mind) stays unknown, Sienaert and colleagues laid out a number of hypotheses of their evaluate. As an example, a number of courses of antibiotics — together with macrolides, like clarithromycin, and beta-lactams, like amoxicillin — have been discovered to have an effect on the mind’s GABAergic system. The antibiotics act as an inhibitor of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a ubiquitous neurotransmitter that’s liable for tamping down excited neurons.

“Which may clarify why, in these circumstances, mania arises,” Sienaert stated. “By inhibiting an inhibitory neurotransmitter, that leads to excitatory operate.”

Extra mechanisms proposed in Sienaert’s evaluate embody the power of antibiotics to disrupt patients’ gut microbiomes and trigger dysfunction in mitochondria, which energy cells. The authors of the case research additionally hypothesized {that a} drug-drug interplay between clarithromycin and amoxicillin-clavulanic acid could have occurred resulting from their shared exercise at GABA receptors. 

Initially revealed on Dwell Science.


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