severe confusion that develops quickly, and often fluctuates in intensity

Delirium is a medical term. The condition is also known as acute confusional state. But, this term is not frequently used anymore, because this term can have many different meanings. Doctors use it to describe patients who have lost parts or all of their ability to focus attention. People who suffer from it may also have problems to concentrate, or to remember things or other people. Delirium is a medical symptom. It is not a disease. Delirium is also considered a type of confusion, but a more severe one, than simple weaker confusion. Delirium can be caused by many things, like anticholinergic medications, too much alcohol, and benzodiazepine medications. Delirium can be confused with other mental conditions like Schizophrenia, Dementia and Psychosis, because all of these conditions have symptoms similar to Delirium. [1] [2]




- Confused thinking - Not being aware of the surroundings - Trouble focusing on a topic or changing topics - Getting stuck on an idea rather than responding to questions - Being easily distracted - Not knowing where they are or who they are - Trouble with speech or recalling words - Rambling or nonsense speech - Trouble reading or writing - Quick changes in mood - Seeing things that others don't see - Slowed movement or being sluggish - Personality changes



A delirium can have many causes. The most common ones include:[4]

  • Injuries to the head or the nervous system
  • Mental illness
  • Trauma or shock
  • Fever or pain
  • Certain substances found in drugs or poisons
  • Problems with metabolism. If a substance is transformed into another using an enzyme, a problem with that enzyme will lead to too much of the first, and too little of the second substance.
  • Not having enough water, or food, or sleep
  • Withdrawal symptoms (when people try to get away from a drugs or alcohol addiction). The delirium associated with alcohol withdrawal is called delirium tremens.
  • Antihistamine medications like Promethazine, Doxylamine, Dipenhydramine, Dimenhydrinate.



There are several definitions of what constitutes a delirium, but in general, the following is true:

  • Disturbance of consciousness; problems to focus, shift the focus, concentrate, or shift concentration from one item to another.[5]
  • hallucinations; reduced ability to solve problems.[5]
  • Sleeping problems are common, very often the circadian rhythm is lost.[5]
  • Problems with thinking; problems remembering things.[6]



Deliria are often treated with special drugs, called antipsychotics. These medications can help people feel better with their Delirium. Benzodiazepines are the most commonly used medications for alcohol withdrawal and DTs.[7] They help calm excited nervous system. Treatment also need intravenous fluids with vitamins and minerals to treat dehydration or bring your electrolytes back into balance.

Delirium are always a medical emergency, because it is impossible to predict how they develop. Worst-case scenarios include cardiac arrest, and malfunctions of the metabolism. In order to be able to treat a delirium, its cause must usually be found. In the case of alcoholism, the most common cause for a delirium is the withdrawal of alcohol.[8] This condition is known as Delirium tremens.


  1. "Reference 1".
  2. "Reference 2".
  3. "Symptoms and causes of Delirium".
  4. Thomas Scot. "What Causes Delirium Tremens (DT)?". Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Hales E and Yudofsky JA, eds, The American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Psychiatry, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., 2003
  6. Gelder, Mayou, Geddes (2005). Psychiatry. (Pg.138) New York, NY: Oxford University Press Inc.
  7. Sherilyn, Moore. "Benzodiazepines in Treating Alcoholism". Retrieved 2021-08-18.
  8. "Acute Alcohol Withdrawal and Delirium Tremens". American Addiction Centers. Retrieved 2020-11-24.