The mental illness of the elderly that is easily overlooked! How does delirium differ from dementia and geriatric depression?

How does delirium differ from dementia and geriatric depression?

● Delirium is a mental state often accompanied by confusion, hallucinations, delusions

● Older adults are at increased risk for delirium due to illness, medications, and social isolation

● Elders with delirium have a higher risk of dementia

An 80-year-old female patient was sent to the emergency room due to emotional instability, delusions and hallucinations and other symptoms. After evaluation and diagnosis, the patient underwent colorectal cancer surgery a few days ago and used a large number of analgesics and sedatives during hospitalization. Coupled with the environment of the intensive care unit, it leads to postoperative delirium.

Delirium-like psychotic symptoms

Psychiatrist Yang Congcai said that delirium is a kind of mental state. Symptoms such as confusion, confusion, hallucinations, and delusions appear in the cognition and reaction of the brain. The most common symptoms are sudden nonsense, unrecognizable people, restlessness, and forgetfulness. Lost sense of orientation and time, etc. Some patients even expressed that they saw things that did not exist.

6 Causes of Delirium

Why does delirium occur? Yang Congcai said that it is mainly due to diffuse metabolic disorders in the brain, and there may be 6 reasons for delirium:

1. Physiological state: certain diseases or physical injuries, such as infection, stroke, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, etc.

2. Mental state: emotional instability, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and other mental states.

3. Lack of sleep: Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality may lead to delirium.

4. Physical disorders: long-term hunger, dehydration, high fever, low blood sugar and other physical disorders.

5. Drugs or drug use: Some drugs or drugs can also cause delirium, such as alcohol, sleeping pills, antipsychotics, hallucinogens, etc.

6. Changes in the environment: Most often occur in hospitals, where the mental and physical stress caused by hospitalization leads to sudden changes in the state of brain consciousness.

Yang Congcai reminded that when delirium occurs, medical help should be sought as soon as possible, and the cause should be found out for corresponding treatment. As long as the cause is well controlled, most patients can recover.

Delirium easily confused with dementia, geriatric depression

Delirium has no specific age group, but it is common in the elderly, and research statistics show that it is related to factors such as chronic disease, drug use and social isolation, which increase the risk of seizures.

Delirium Symptoms are similar to dementia and senile depression, and are easy to be confused and miss the golden treatment period. Yang Congcai emphasized that delirium usually includes confusion, hallucinations, and delusions; senile depression is depression, insomnia, self-denial, weight loss, etc.;dementiaSymptoms are persistent and gradually worsening cognitive dysfunction. When the elders have memory loss, language barriers, and thinking ability decline, they should pay more attention.

Another important observation is timing. Delirium is usually temporary and may resolve within hours or days, whereas dementia is a persistent, progressive cognitive impairment that can last for years.

Special attention should be paid to the fact that elders who are prone to delirium have a higher risk of dementia; delirium and dementia may coexist, and if the elders with dementia suddenly fall into delirium, the patient’s cognitive function will deteriorate faster. The key to distinguishing these diseases is detailed medical and psychological evaluation, item by item examination of physical condition, brain function, and evaluation of emotional and cognitive functions, etc., timely diagnosis and early treatment.

4 ways to prevent delirium

1. Watch out for side effects of drugs: Pay attention to whether there will be related side effects when using drugs.

2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle: get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise moderately, reduce stress and mood swings.

3. Stay social: Being social can reduce things like social isolation and depression.

4. Prevention of infection: Infection is one of the common causes of delirium. Pay attention to prevent infection, wash your hands frequently, and get vaccinated.

Scroll to Top