Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide

Altered Mental Status

Yelena Gimelshteyn, M.D., Peter V. Rabins, M.D., M.P.H.
Altered Mental Status is a topic covered in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Guide.

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DEFINITION

  • “Acute mental status change” is a vague and often misleading term that can encompass any change in a patient’s mood, behavior, psychomotor skills, and/or cognition.
    • This includes level of alertness and orientation.
  • Frequently, the term is used to describe delirium.
    • Some conceptualize delirium as resulting from a breakdown of brain function in individuals with impairments in brain connectivity and brain plasticity exposed to a stressor.

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Last updated: March 1, 2017