Should patients claiming to be EHS be considered as having psychiatric disease?
Patients claiming to be EHS are in fact suffering from a new pathology which is unknown to most practitioners yet, causing them often to be incorrectly investigated and treated. That physical symptoms are not easily detectable clinically and that routine brain imaging (scan, MRI, carotid ultrasound) are usually normal. This led to the belief that patients were inventing or simulating disease. At the same time, functional neurologic or psycho-pathologic clinical symptoms such as cognitive impairment, depression, emotivism are prominent, further misleading physicians towards a psychiatric cause diagnosis.
Such a diagnosis does not withstand analysis. If patients are extensively interviewed and correctly examined and investigated before irreversible EMFIS (ie during the prodromic stage or even later), patients are lucid and conscious of their condition. Neurological symptoms such as headache, tinnitus, dysesthesia, dizziness and / or equilibrium loss; although functional, and fleeting (as they are triggered by electromagnetic sources), fail to meet criteria for a psychiatric disorder, whose diagnosis actually relies on subjective criteria, especially on the psychiatrist’s beliefs over the patient’s statements and behaviour-. Thorough interviews and especially complete clinical examination are therefore essential, searching for any objective physical sign of a somatic pathology. One may recall here that many physical neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, lateral amyotrophic sclerosis, small epilepsis, temporal-type epilepsy, etc. most often start with purely functional thus subjective symptoms, and that the search for purely functional symptoms is part of a neurological examination along with objective biological and/or imaging tests. This lesson should be applied to EHS and EMFIS patients.
So before referring such patients to a psychiatric consultation, a physician must ensure that EMFIS has been excluded; and if such patients unfortunately come to a psychiatrist, then before prescribing risky psychotropic, anxiolytic and / or antidepressants, he or she also should first exclude EMFIS.
Fortunately today, the above approach is advocated by a growing number of psychiatrists who acknowledge that the vast majority of EHS patients were mis-referred to them through mistake or ignorance, and are actually not suffering from a psychiatric disease. Thus, in most cases, they re-refer such patients to neurologists and / or to specialists in Environmental Medicine.
But this means that for some patients claiming to be EHS their disorder can over time progress into a truly neuro-psychiatric condition. Indeed, as indicated above, in the absence of early treatment and precautionary measures to protect the organism from electromagnetic sources, patients are at risk of confusion syndrome or even early dementia resembling Alzheimer's disease. This is suggested by the several epidemiological studies which showed that long-term, low or extremely low frequency EMF exposure is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease occurrence. Indeed several of our patients who had been intensively exposed to radio frequency or microwave, exhibited a type of dementia similar to Alzheimer's disease, probably because of the absence of early treatment and electromagnetic weaning. Thus, it clearly appears that in the absence of treatment and preventive measures, EHS may evolve into such forms of psychiatric disorders but it is not the case in common EHS patients when early treatment is implemented and preventive measures are taken.