Mental health articles

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Classifi cation of alcohol-related disorders

Acute intoxication:  at low doses, alcohol may have stimulant effects, but these give way to agitation and, ultimately, sedation at higher doses. ‘Drunkenness’ may be uncomplicated or may lead to hangover, trauma, delirium, convulsions or coma Pathological intoxication:  a state in which even small quantities of alcohol produce sudden, uncharacteristic outbursts of violent behaviour Harmful use:  actual physical or mental harm to the user, and associated disruption of his or her social life Dependence syndrome:  craving for alcohol that over-rides the normal social constraints on drinking. This state is known colloquially as alcoholism and includes dipsomania Withdrawal states:  with or without delirium. Grand mal fi ts may occur, usually within 24–48 hours after withdrawal. Hallucinations are a feature of withdrawal, often occurring in the absence of any confusion or disorientation; they are usually visual but may be auditory or both. Delirium tremens is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires rapid recognition and treatment Psychotic disorder:  includes hallucinosis (usually visual), paranoid states and so-called ‘pathological jealousy’ Amnesic syndrome:  impairment of recent memory (that is, for events that occurred a few hours previously), whereas both immediate recall and memories of more remote events are relatively preserved

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