Organic brain syndrome

Organic brain syndrome

Organic brain syndrome is a general term referring to many acute and chronic physical disorders that cause impaired mental function. It does not usually include psychiatric disorders. Though OBS is a common diagnosis in the elderly, it is related to disease processes and is not an inevitable part of aging.

Acute organic brain syndrome is an often temporary state of mental impairment, recently appearing as a result of intoxication, drug overdose, infection, pain, and many other physical problems affecting mental status. A more specific medical term for the acute subset of organic brain syndromes, is delirium.

Associated conditions

Disorders that cause injury or damage to the brain and contribute to OBS include, but are not limited to:

Other conditions that may be related to organic brain syndrome include: clinical depression, neuroses, and psychoses, which may occur simultaneously with the OBS.


Symptoms of OBS vary with the disease that is responsible. However, the more common symptoms of OBS are confusion; impairment of memory, judgment, and intellectual function; and agitation. Often these symptoms are attributed to psychiatric illness, which causes a difficulty in diagnosis.


Treatment of OBS varies with the causative disorder or disease. It is important to note that it is not a primary diagnosis and a cause needs to be sought out and treated.

Other names

  • Chronic organic brain syndrome
  • OBS
  • Organic mental disorder


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