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Does Alzheimer's disease cause psychosis?

People with Alzheimer's disease may suffer from psychosis, and progression of Alzheimer's disease makes psychosis more likely. Psychosis is a general term to describe a disturbance in thought process such that the person suffering from it loses touch with reality. People with Alzheimer's dementia may suffer from psychosis in the form of hallucinations and delusions, especially later in the disease process. It is difficult to predict the likelihood and severity of psychosis experienced by an Alzheimer's sufferer.

Roughly four out of ten people with Alzheimer's disease will experience psychosis, which is marked by recurring delusions or hallucinations. While this most often occurs in late-onset Alzheimer's and appears to run in families, specific genes associated with it have not yet been pinpointed. The disordered thinking that prompts delusions and hallucinations occurs sporadically, which tends not to be true in other forms of psychosis. A woman troubled by delusions might call the police to report strangers in the house, talk to herself in the mirror or talk to people on TV. Hallucinations are often visual—seeing jagged rocks or water where floorboards actually are—but may be auditory (phantom voices), as well.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.