Confused Thinking

Head | Neurology | Confused Thinking (Symptom)


Confusion is a change in mental status in which a person is not able to think with his or her usual level of clarity. Frequently, confusion leads to the loss of ability to recognize people and or places, or tell time and the date. Feelings of disorientation are common in confusion, and decision-making ability is damaged.

Confusion is a symptom, and it may range from mild to severe. The confused state may include jumbled or disorganized thought and unusual, bizarre, or aggressive behaviors. A person who is confused may have difficulty solving problems or tasks, especially those known to have been previously easy for the person and an inability to recognize family members or familiar objects, or to give approximate location of family members not present. As well, they may appear to be disoriented, drowsy, hyperactive, or anxious. In severe cases, the person may have hallucinations, feelings of paranoia, and a state of delirium.


Confusion may arise suddenly or develop gradually over time. The most common causes of drug induced acute confusion are dopaminergic drugs used for Parkinson's disease, diuretics, tricyclic or tetracyclic antidepressants and benzodiazepines. The elderly and especially those with pre-existing dementia are at most risk for drug induced acute confusional states.

New research is finding a link between Vitamin D deficiencies and cognitive impairment which includes memory loss and a foggy brain.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A good way to find out if someone is confused is to ask the person his or her name, age, and the date. If they are unsure or answer incorrectly, it is a sign that they are confused.

For sudden confusion due to low blood sugar (for example, from diabetes medication), the person should drink a sweet drink or eat a sweet snack. If the confusion lasts longer than 10 minutes a physician should be consulted.