Organic Disorders

Organic brain disorders are either acute or chronic. Acute brain dysfunctions can result from myriad conditions: alcohol intoxication, anemia, brain tumors, cardiovascular disorders, emphysema, fever, infections, infectious diseases, lead poisoning, liver disease, medication, mercury poisoning, multiple sclerosis, stroke, thyroid disorders, and vitamin deficiencies. The two most common chronic brain disorders—Alzheimer's disease and multi-

infarct dementia—are discussed in Chapter 3. Other, less common, chronic brain disorders include Parkinsonism, Korsakoff's syndrome, Creutzfeldt— Jakob disease, and AIDS dementia complex. Of all adults over age 75 admit— ted to psychiatric treatment institutions, an estimated 85% are diagnosed as having organic brain disorders (LaRue, Dessonville, & Jarvik, 1985).

The symptoms of organic brain disorders, also known as dementias, include mental confusion, memory loss, incoherent speech, poor orientation to the environment, and, in some cases, motor incoordination, agitation, depression, and delirium. Agitated patients may scream, pace, and have violent outbursts in which they verbally and physically abuse the nursing staff (Raskind & Peskind, 1992).

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