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Delirium, also known as acute confusional state, is an organically caused decline from a previous baseline mental functioning that develops over a short period of time, typically hours to days. Delirium is a syndrome encompassing disturbances in attention, consciousness, and cognition. It may also involve other neurological deficits, such as psychomotor disturbances (e.g. hyperactive, hypoactive, or mixed), impaired sleep-wake cycle, emotional disturbances, and perceptual disturbances (e.g. hallucinations and delusions), although these features are not required for diagnosis.
Delirium is caused by an acute organic process, which is a physically identifiable structural, functional, or chemical problem in the brain that may arise from a disease process outside the brain that nonetheless affects the brain. It may result from an underlying disease process (e.g. infection, hypoxia), side effect of a medication, withdrawal from drugs, over-consumption of alcohol, or from any number of factors affecting one's overall health (e.g. malnutrition, pain, etc.). In contrast, fluctuations in mental status/function due to changes in primarily psychiatric processes or diseases (e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder) do not, by definition, meet the criteria for 'delirium.'
Delirium may be difficult to diagnose without the proper establishment of a person's usual mental function. Without careful assessment and history, delirium can easily be confused with a number of psychiatric disorders or chronic organic brain syndromes because of many overlapping signs and symptoms in common with dementia, depression, psychosis, etc. Delirium may manifest from a baseline of existing mental illness, baseline intellectual disability, or dementia, without being due to any of these problems.
Treatment of delirium requires treating the underlying cause and multi-faceted interventions are thought to be most effective. In some cases, temporary or symptomatic treatments are used to comfort the person or to facilitate other care (e.g. preventing people from pulling out a breathing tube). Antipsychotics are not supported for the treatment or prevention of delirium among those who are in hospital. When delirium is caused by alcohol or sedative hypnotic withdrawal, benzodiazepines are typically used. Delirium affects 14–24% of all hospitalized individuals. The overall prevalence for the general population is 1–2% but this increases with age, reaching 14% of adults over age 85. Among older adults, delirium occurs in 15–53% of those post-surgery, 70–87% of those in the ICU, up to 60% of those in nursing homes or post-acute care settings. Among those requiring critical care, delirium is a risk for death within the next year.
A lucid dream is a dream during which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming. During a lucid dream, the dreamer may gain some amount of control over the dream characters, narrative, and environment; however, this is not actually necessary for a dream to be described as lucid. Lucid dreaming has been studied and reported for many years. Prominent figures from ancient to modern times have been fascinated by lucid dreams and have sought ways to better understand their causes and purpose. Many different theories have emerged as a result of scientific research on the subject and have even been shown in pop culture. Further developments in psychological research have pointed to ways in which this form of dreaming may be utilized as a form of sleep therapy.
An organic brain syndrome (OBS), also known as an organic brain disease/disorder (OBD), an organic mental syndrome (OMS), or an organic mental disorder (OMD), is a syndrome or disorder of mental function whose cause is alleged to be known as organic (physiologic) rather than purely of the mind. These names are older and nearly obsolete general terms from psychiatry, referring to many physical disorders that cause impaired mental function. They are meant to exclude psychiatric disorders (mental disorders). Originally, the term was created to distinguish physical (termed "organic") causes of mental impairment from psychiatric (termed "functional") disorders, but during the era when this distinction was drawn, not enough was known about brain science (including neuroscience, cognitive science, neuropsychology, and mind-brain correlation) for this cause-based classification to be more than educated guesswork labeled with misplaced certainty, which is why it has been deemphasized in current medicine.
Acute organic brain syndrome is (by definition) a recently appearing state of mental impairment, as a result of intoxication, drug overdose, infection, pain, and many other physical problems affecting mental status. In medical contexts, "acute" means "of recent onset". As is the case with most acute disease problems, acute organic brain syndrome is often temporary, although this does not guarantee that it will not recur (happen again) or progress to become chronic, that is, long-term. A more specific medical term for the acute subset of organic brain syndromes is delirium.
Chronic organic brain syndrome is long-term. For example, some forms of chronic drug or alcohol dependence can cause organic brain syndrome due to their long-lasting or permanent toxic effects on brain function. Other common causes of chronic organic brain syndrome sometimes listed are the various types of dementia, which result from permanent brain damage due to strokes, Alzheimer's disease, or other damaging causes which are not reversible.
Though OBS was once a common diagnosis in the elderly, until the understanding of the various types of dementias it is related to a disease process and is not an inevitable part of aging. In some of the older literature, there was an attempt to separate organic brain syndrome from dementia, but this was related to an older world view in which dementia was thought to be a part of normal aging, and thus did not represent a special disease process. The later identification of various dementias as clear pathologies is an example of the types of pathological problems discovered to be associated with mental states, and is one of the areas which led to abandonment of all further attempts to clearly define and use OBS as a term.
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This page was last updated January 21st, 2020 by Kim.S
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