Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome as a Consequence of Delusional Food Refusal: A Case Study

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Abstract

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency, typically resulting from malnutrition secondary to chronic alcohol abuse. Less often, other conditions can lead to malnutrition and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. We describe a 35-year-old man who developed Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome with a typical neurologic and neuropsychological presentation after somatic delusions led him to refuse to eat. Cases like his serve to heighten awareness of the interplay between psychiatric and neurologic conditions, their sometimes atypical pathogenesis, and the value to primary care providers of consulting with psychiatrists, neurologists, and neuropsychologists when managing patients with possible Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.

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