Undiagnosed medical conditions and medication side effects presenting as behavioral/psychiatric problems in people with mental retardation

T. Kastner, K. K. Walsh, M. Fraser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Preliminary data are presented on the effects of undiagnosed medical conditions and side effects of medication appearing in a subset of 209 people with mental retardation serially referred for psychiatric and behavioral treatment. A retrospective analysis of medical record data showed that 12% of the group had unrecognized medical conditions that accounted for presenting behaviors, while side effects of medication accounted for behavioral symptoms in another 7%. Analyses of diagnostic information revealed that referral physicians tended to give psychiatric diagnoses when more types of behavior problems were reported, but overall, gave fewer diagnoses than a specialized transdisciplinary team. Careful medical evaluation could have led to earlier diagnosis and treatment for people whose behavioral symptoms were associated with unrecognized medical conditions and medication side effects. A transdisciplinary evaluation process is recommended for people with mental retardation who exhibit behavioral symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalMental Health Aspects of Developmental Disabilities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2001



  • Developmental disabilities
  • Intellectual disabilities
  • Medical conditions
  • Medication
  • Mental retardation
  • Psychiatric diagnosis
  • Side effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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