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NBME PSYCH Form 3 - Answers & Explanations

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

1) Nucleus basalis of Meynert • Nucleus basalis of Meynert produces acetycholine; destruction → ↓ ACh → Alzheimer disease • Amygdaloid nucleus: Kluver-bucy syndrome • Caudate nucleus: Huntington disease • Medial geniculate nucleus: Auditory pathway • Red nucleus: mostly vestigial in mammals; crawling in human babies

• Substantia nigra: Parkinson disease • Subthalamic nucleus: Hemiballismus

2) Caudate nucleus

• Caudate & Putamen destruction → ↓ ACh and GABA → Huntington disease

• Amygdaloid nucleus: Kluver-bucy syndrome • Medial geniculate nucleus: Auditory pathway • Nucleus basalis of Meynert: Alzheimer disease • Red nucleus: mostly vestigial in mammals; crawling in human babies

• Substantia nigra: Parkinson disease • Subthalamic nucleus: Hemiballismus

3) Delirium due to anticholinergic medication • Certain antiparkinson drugs (eg, benztropine, trihexyphenidyl) curb excess cholinergic activity → side effects of dry mouth, flushed skin, tachycardia, etc.

4) PCP intoxication • PCP intoxication presents with violent behavior, dissociation, hallucinations, amnesia, ataxia, and nystagmus • Benzodiazepines treat severe psychomotor agitation

5) Reassure the father that this is normal development • Weight unchanged from the previous year, normal growth and development

6) Schizoaffective disorder • Delusions or hallucinations for ≥ 2 weeks in the absence of prominent mood symptoms

7) Borderline personality disorder

• Often have a history of childhood trauma (eg, physical/sexual abuse or neglect) → insecure attachment, unstable relationships, and fear of abandonment

• Cluster B personality disorders have a high rate of self-mutilation and suicide

8) Fragile site on the X chromosome • High forehead, large everted ears, prominent jaw, low IQ = Fragile X syndrome

• Fragile sites are discontinuity of staining in the region of the trinucleotide repeat on the long arm of the X chromosome (a diagnostic lab artifact)

9) Quetiapine

• This patient has Parkinson psychosis • Tx: Quetiapine or clozapine (lowest propensity to cause EPS)

10) Corticosteroid-induced psychotic disorder • Glucocorticoids, particularly at high doses, are often implicated in new-onset psychotic symptoms

11) Contact child protective services • Children who are victims of physical abuse often avoid eye contact on physical exam

12) Enlarged lateral and third ventricles on CT scan of the head • CT scans of patients with schizophrenia often show ventriculomegaly (particularly the lateral cerebral ventricles) and diffuse cortical atrophy

13) Obtain a rectal temperature under supervision • Temp of 107.6 F raises suspicion for factitious disorder

14) Conduct disorder • Repetitive and pervasive behavior that violates the basic rights of others or societal norms (eg, destruction of property)

15) Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease • Rapidly progressive dementia (weeks to months) • Periodic sharp waves on EEG • ↑ 14-3-3 protein in CSF

16) Discontinue clozapine therapy • Clozapine may lead to agranulocytosis (non-dose related) and seizures (dose related) • This patients leukocyte count is < 3000 and he has flu-like symptoms

17) Major depressive disorder • MDD has an atypical presentation with physical symptoms (eg, headache) in the elderly

• Sadness

• Guilt

• Weight loss

• Fatigue

• Psychomotor retardation (slowing of physical and/or emotional reactions, including speech and affect)

• Somatization and illness anxiety disorders require 6 months to diagnose (she has only been experiencing her headaches for 4 weeks)

18) Valproic acid • Valproic acid block box warning: hepatotoxicity, pancreatitis, fetal abnormalities

19) Drug-drug interaction • Switching from most antidepressants to a MAOI requires a 2-week washout; Fluoxetine, an SSRI, has a relatively long half-life and requires a 5 week washout

• Excess serotonin → serotonin syndrome

20) Discontinue desipramine therapy • TCA may cause prolonged QT • Tx: Stop medication and give NaHCO3 (prevents arrhythmia)

21) Alcohol use

• This patient drinks ‘several’ alcoholic beverages before sex and has ↑ GGT

• Alcohol is a depressant that can make it difficult to achieve erections or reach an orgasm

22) Propranolol

• The tremors in this patients hand are of 1 month duration which doesn’t indicate any anxiety disorder

• This patient likely has essential tremor (patients often self medicate with alcohol which decreases tremor amplitude, hence this patients alcohol abuse)

• Nonselective beta-blockers (eg, propranolol) are the treatment of choice

23) Lorazepam • This patient has a specific phobia • 1st-line tx: CBT with exposure; short-acting benzodiazepines are helpful if therapy is unavailable or insufficient time

24) Amitriptyline

• TCA are contraindicated in the elderly due to anticholinergic and antihistamine effects

• Hydrophilic β-blockers don’t cross the BBB and therefore don’t cause psychosis; Lipophilic β-blockers (eg, propranolol, nadolol) cross the BBB and therefore can cause psychosis and depression

25) Polysomnography • Polysomnography showing reduced REM sleep latency will diagnosis narcolepsy

26) Zolpidem • Psychotherapy is the first line therapy for Adjustment disorder (SSRIs aren’t given)

• Nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics (eg, zolpidem) can be given to treat insomnia

27) Buspirone

• Generalized anxiety disorder: excessive and persistent worry about multiple issues for ≥ 6 months

• First-line tx: CBT + SSRI/SNRI

• Second-line tx: Buspirone and benzodiazepines

28) Alcohol dependence • Drinks vodka in the morning, ‘eye-opener' = ⊕ CAGE questions • Must rule out any substance or medical related mood disorders before diagnosing a psychiatric condition (eg, Adjustment disorder)

29) Schizotypal • Cluster A personality disorder; genetic association with schizophrenia • Eccentric appearance, odd thoughts, beliefs, perceptions and behavior

30) Electroconvulsive therapy • ECT is appropriate for severely depressed geriatric patients who require rapid intervention • Antidepressants + antipsychotics would take too long to be effective

31) Post-traumatic stress disorder • Nightmares, functional impairment, psychological trauma, and detachment for > 1 month • Tx: Trauma focused CBT + SSRI/SNRI

32) Major depressive disorder • Diagnosis can’t be Adjustment disorder because this patient meets 5/9 criteria for MDD • Crying spells, sad mood = depressed • Poor concentration • Fatigue and lethargy = low energy • Not interested in socializing = anhedonia • 20lb weight gain = appetite/weight change

33) Alcohol • Gait disturbance is characteristic of alcohol intoxication

• Normal vitals rule out cocaine or amphetamine use

34) Drug reaction • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome: Fever, Muscle rigidity, Abnormal vitals, ↑ CK

35) Fetal alcohol syndrome • Facial abnormalities in FAS: long smooth philtrum, thin vermillion border, small palpebral fissures

36) Risperidone • Tourette syndrome - onset before age 18 • Tx: Antipsychotics, Tetrabenazine, Alpha-2-agonists (eg, guanfacine, clonidine)

37) “Have you been feeling like just giving up?” • Sense of hopelessness requires further investigation/questioning

38) Psychiatric assessment • This patient has a normal physical exam and has completed a battery of tests without any abnormalities (possible somatic symptom disorder)

39) Obsessive-compulsive disorder

• Ego-dystonic (behavior inconsistent with one’s own beliefs and attitude)

40) Antisocial personality disorder • Violate the rights of others, social norms, and laws • Consistently irresponsible and is deceitful • Truancy (absent from school for no good reason) is characteristic

• Borderline and Narcissistic don’t have many friends/relationships

41) Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder • This patients disorder is ego-syntonic (behavior consistent with own beliefs) • Tx: CBT + SSRI (clomipramine and venlafaxine are second line)

42) Provide information about the range of reactions to trauma • This will help normalize the patient’s symptoms as a consequence of the trauma, so that they are more receptive and more likely to seek help if symptoms persist or deteriorate • This approach also respects the patients autonomy of not wanting to talk to anyone regarding the trauma

43) Drug toxicity • OTC cold medications (pseudoephedrine, ephedrine, antihistamines, antitussives) should be used cautiously in young children, with recommended doses not exceeded, as they can have unwanted side effects including confusion and hallucinations

44) Bipolar disorder

• Grandiosity, pressured speech, excess energy → sleeping 2 hours/night

• Schizoaffective disorder must have delusions or hallucinations for ≥ 2 weeks in the absence of prominent mood symptoms; Bipolar or major depression with psychotic features have psychotic symptoms occurring exclusively during mood episodes

45) Sleep-related hypoventilation • This obese, male teenager snores and breaths through his mouth = ventilation disrupted by physical obstruction of airflow • Tx: nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP), weight loss

46) Methamphetamine

• Amphetamines → prolonged wakefulness, aggressive behavior, fever, HTN

• Cannabis → dry mouth, conjunctival injection

• Ecstasy → ↑ sociability, euphoria

• Heroin → CNS depression, miosis

• LSD → hallucinations (visual, auditory), depersonalization

47) Explanation of the risks and benefits of antidepressant therapy

• This patients depression has returned and she should have the risks and benefits of restarting an antidepressant explained to her

• This patient has no suicidal or homicidal ideation; deliberating about an abortion doesn’t merit hospitalization

48) Admit her to a psychiatric hospital

• Indications for hospitalization in anorexia nerves include unstable vital signs, cardiac dysrhythmias, electrolyte derangements, and severely low body weight

• Cannot start parenteral nutrition without admitting her due to risk of re-feeding syndrome

49) Clonazepam therapy • Benzodiazepine for treatment of insomnia

50) Panic disorder

• Recurrent and unexpected attacks with at least 1 month of preoccupations with the attack (eg, persistent concern of additional attacks)

• May be misdiagnosed as somatic symptom disorder, but the abrupt onset and characteristic physical symptoms that resolve within minutes can help differentiate the two

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1) Circadian rhythm sleep disorder • This patient is unable to sleep and wake at the time required for normal work and social needs • These patients will have normal sleep, energy and functioning when


Can someone explain what the 3 to 5 beats of nystagmus with lateral gaze meant in question 45? I thought that indicated signs of increased intracranial pressure against the abducens nerve


Juan Alberto
Juan Alberto
Mar 15, 2021

3) Delirium due to anticholinergic medication - Antiparkinsonian drugs and I would like to add that antipsychotics has anticholinergic properties too


Yvonne Nsiah
Yvonne Nsiah
Jul 07, 2020

Hi! For #37, why not E?


1) Contact child protective services : Children who are victims of physical abuse often avoid eye contact on physical exam

>>>Children who are victims of abuse also are overly fearful of examiner and will exhibit aggressive play.

49) Clonazepam therapy • Benzodiazepine for treatment of insomnia

>>> She is having an adjustment and can't be diagnosed or treated for MDD/GAD; thus, tx symptoms.

Replying to

Is there not a concern for respiratory depression given that the patient would be taking a benzo in addition to the barbiturate she is already taking? Maybe she takes it PRN but the question is very vague saying she "takes acetaminophen/butalbital for occasional migraines", so, i guess for the sake of vague test questions we just assume she wont take both drugs in one night?


Jordan Abrams
Jordan Abrams
Feb 25, 2020

@alex27marty NBME does not offer a Form 2 any longer, so we do not have and will not publish the explanations.

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