Definition Of Delirium - Health Article

Definition Of Delirium

What is delirium?


Delirium is a psycho-organic disorder.

The cause is physical (the dysfunction of the brains), but the symptoms are psychological. These are reflected by confusion, cognitive problems or inattention. Symptoms develop in a short period and fluctuate in strength. In addition to attention and concentration problems can also amnesia , delusions and hallucinations occur.

Delirium is more common in older people. People with dementia are more susceptible to developing delirium. Delirium can be caused by a physical condition such as an infection, side effects of certain medications or withdrawal symptoms (alcohol or drugs). An example of the latter is the delirium tremens , but also excessive alcohol can cause delirium (alcohol delirium). Furthermore, a delirium may occur after surgery (post-operative delirium) or terminal phase of diseases like cancer and AIDS, and delirium that can occur at very high fever, as miles (fever delirium).

 Symptoms develop in a short period and fluctuate in strength Definition Of Delirium


The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) provides the following diagnostic criteria for delirium:

  • A reduced ability to maintain focus on external stimuli and to shift the focus to new external stimuli, so one of the two following criteria:

-Questions must be repeated because the attention fades
-Repeated answers to previous questions

  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Confusion that develops over a short period of time
  • Fluctuating level of confusion
  • At least two of the following criteria:

-Decreased level of consciousness
-Perceptual disturbances
-Disruption of the sleep-wake rhythm
-Increased or decreased psychomotor activity
-Disorientation with respect to time, place or person
-Memory problems

  • One of the following criteria:

-Evidence that an organic factor is the cause of the confusion whether it holds them in position
-The confusion can not be explained by a non-organic mental disorder

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