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What Is Hospital Psychosis?

Most people hate hospitals, but some can be extremely affected by them and go through hospital psychosis. They may experience sensory hallucinations, “blank out” or experience lapses in memory, or even speak in a slurred or nonsensical way.

Doctors say that hospital psychosis does not immediately mean that the person has an underlying mental disorder. It can happen to someone who is, in other circumstances, perfectly calm and in control. They believe that it is simply triggered by the trauma and stress of being in the hospital. The fear and anxiety of being sick, plus the distress caused by being in an unfamiliar place and barraged by bright lights and loud noises emitted from medical equipment can all lead to an “attack.” Some people may also become more vulnerable to it because of sedatives or anesthesia. Other experts believe that it is also triggered by sleep deprivation.

Hospital psychosis may also be related to “sundowners syndrome” which also manifests in hallucinations and slurred speech. Sundowners is often seen in those who are going through the early stages of Alzheimers, or elderly who are confused about day/night cues. Doctors may prescribe anti-depressants.

The intensity of hospital psychosis is correlated to the duration spent in the hospital. Friends and family members may notice that somebody is “not quite himself”—then the condition worsens over time. However, most medical professionals will not treat hospital psychosis (or even diagnose it), especially if the case is very mild. Luckily the symptoms usually subside once the patient has returned home.

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