What are the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for delirium?

Updated: Apr 25, 2019
  • Author: Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD, MBBS, MPH, MHA; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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The diagnosis of delirium is clinical. No laboratory test can diagnose delirium.

Diagnostic criteria

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) diagnostic criteria for delirium is as follows [1] :

  • Disturbance in attention (ie, reduced ability to direct, focus, sustain, and shift attention) and awareness.

  • Change in cognition (eg, memory deficit, disorientation, language disturbance, perceptual disturbance) that is not better accounted for by a preexisting, established, or evolving dementia.

  • The disturbance develops over a short period (usually hours to days) and tends to fluctuate during the course of the day.

  • There is evidence from the history, physical examination, or laboratory findings that the disturbance is caused by a direct physiologic consequence of a general medical condition, an intoxicating substance, medication use, or more than one cause.

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