No matter how sick my grandmother got or what her doctors said, she refused to go to the hospital because she thought it was a dangerous place. To some degree, she was right. Although hospitals can be places of healing, hospital stays can have serious downsides, too.
One that has been getting a lot of attention lately is the development of delirium in people who are hospitalized. Delirium is a sudden change in mental status characterized by confusion, disorientation, altered states of consciousness (from hyperalert to unrousable), an inability to focus, and sometimes hallucinations. It’s the most common complication of hospitalization among older people.
We wrote about treating and preventing hospital delirium earlier this year in the Harvard Women’s Health Watch. In the New York Times “The New Old Age” blog, author Susan Seliger vividly describes her 85-year-old mother’s rapid descent into hospital delirium, and tips for preventing it.
Although delirium often recedes, it may have long-lasting aftereffects. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
Benedict Carey is a New York Times mental health reporter. In last Sunday’s Times, he wrote about Joe Holt, a man with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Mr. Holt was dealt a particularly tough deck of cards: in addition to a diagnosis of schizophrenia, he had a horrible and traumatic childhood with much loss, placement in a facility where he was physically abused, and periods of homelessness as a teenager. He now has a stable marriage, has adopted children and keeps numerous foster children, and holds two jobs, one as a computer consultant and another as a therapist (if I read that correctly). He struggles with his emotional life, but my take on this was that this is one extremely resilient man who has waged a successful battle against many demons and his story is inspirational.
So Benedict Carey often writes stories that are skeptical, if not outright critical, of the mental health field. This story did not have that tone. I found it interesting, though, that he chose a person with a diagnosis of schizophrenia who’s life was not “typical.” What did I find not typical? Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*
Toxicity reports are re-emerging in southern California this week after a dozen hospitalizations of kids using teas made from a fragrant flowering plant called Angel’s Trumpet.
A tea made from the plant is used to produce hallucinations, but they can progress to extremely unpleasant experiences. Moreover, Angel’s Trumpet can be deadly, accelerating the heart rate and causing fatal cardiac rhythmic disturbances and bronchoconstriction that can trigger asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*