Isotretinoin-induced psychotic episode in a 17-year-old adolescent male

SAGE Open Med Case Rep. 2020 Jun 20:8:2050313X20931342. doi: 10.1177/2050313X20931342. eCollection 2020.


Isotretinoin, a synthetic vitamin A derivative, is primarily used in the management of severe nodulocystic acne. Since its introduction, isotretinoin has been linked with various psychiatric side effects. In particular, depression and suicidality have been extensively reported as side effects. This case report features a young male who developed a first psychotic episode within 3 months of starting isotretinoin therapy. The patient was hospitalized, and organic pathologies and use of psychoactive substances that could explain his presentation were ruled out. After stopping isotretinoin and starting olanzapine 10 mg, the psychotic symptoms remitted completely within 2 weeks. This case highlights the need for increased vigilance toward psychiatric manifestations of isotretinoin. In addition, it suggests that secondary psychosis should be considered as a differential diagnosis by clinicians, especially in patients with no past psychiatric history or family history of mental illness.

Keywords: Acne; adverse reactions; drug-related side effects; isotretinoin; psychosis; vitamin A.

Publication types

  • Case Reports