Psychiatric symptomatology in an outpatient neurology clinic

R. M. Berlin, M. Ronthal, Edward Bixler, J. D. Kales

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The self-report Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90) was used to screen 105 consecutive first-visit patients in an outpatient neurology clinic. Neurologists diagnosed a primary psychiatric disorder in 35 patients (33%) and a secondary psychiatric disorder in 5. The SCL-90 uncovered previously unidentified emotional distress in 14 patients, for an overall incidence of psychiatric symptoms of 51%. Pain was the most common chief complaint (N = 49), and pain patients accounted for 86% of the primary psychiatric diagnoses. Tricyclic antidepressants were the most often prescribed medications; 81% of these prescriptions were given to pain patients, usually in low doses. Depression was the most common diagnosis (N = 15). Despite the high incidence of psychiatric symptoms, only 3 patients received a psychiatric referral. Neurologists and consulting psychiatrists should maintain a high index of suspicion for psychiatric symptoms when examining patients complaining of pain and, after assessing the presence and severity of depression, prescribe tricyclics judiciously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-206
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number6 I
StatePublished - Jan 1 1983

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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