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Introduction: There is substantial evidence of the association between mental disorders and low folic acid levels. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of folic acid deficiency in a sample of Portuguese psychiatric outpatients.
Methods: The study was retrospective and included 428 psychiatric outpatients with a diagnosis of depression or non-affective psychosis, for whom folic acid levels had been measured as part of routine blood tests. Folic acid levels from other hospital patients from the same time period were also registered.
Results and Discussion: The prevalence of folic acid deficiency in this sample is 18%. Non-psychiatric hospital patients with risk factors for folic acid deficiency have a prevalence of 15% of folic acid deficiency. Men and younger patients have lower folic acid levels, with statistical significance, and the prevalence of deficit reached 26%.
Conclusion: The elevated frequency of folic acid deficiency in this sample of patients shows that folic acid levels should be routinely assessed in every patient with depression or psychosis, in order to avoid maintenance of symptoms and treatment resistance.