Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide

Delirium

Sean P. Heffernan, M.D., Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.
Delirium is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide.

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DEFINITION

  • Concurrent disturbances of both consciousness and cognition (including attention, memory, visuospatial function, executive function) often accompanied by changes in psychomotor behavior, perception, emotion, and sleep-wake cycle.
  • Duration is variable, but onset is often abrupt, usually over the course of hours to days, and ranging in severity.
    • Can persist for weeks to months
  • Delirium is a clinical syndrome indicating underlying pathology.
    • It is not a disease unto itself.
  • Delirium is classified under the neurocognitive disorders (NCDs) section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5) [1].

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Last updated: November 21, 2014