Print Edition - 2018-02-15  |  Health and Living

Climbing Mount Everest can lead to psychosis

  • Study finds

Feb 15, 2018-

Researchers say climbing highest mountains in the world such as Mount Everest can actually lead to psychosis—a mental disorder characterised by a disconnection from reality—adding these psychotic episodes constitute a person’s own medical condition and may be distinct from altitude sickness. A team of researchers from Eurac Research in Italy and the Medical University of Innsbruck in Austria carried out an investigation into psychotic episodes at extreme altitudes and subjected these to systematic scientific analysis.  They discovered a new medical entity which they named the isolated high-altitude psychosis. For the study, the researchers’ analysed data from 80 psychotic episodes at high altitudes collected from German mountain literature. They found a list of psychotic symptoms, such as hearing voices that were linked to altitude but very clearly not always connected to any physical symptoms of altitude sickness or past mental illness. “Those persons who suffer from these episodes at high altitude are otherwise completely healthy—they are not prone to psychosis,” said study co-author Dr Hermann Brugger. Until now, doctors have generally thought such psychotic episodes were symptoms of altitude sickness, alongside severe headaches, dizziness and impaired balance. Their findings suggest that ‘isolated high-altitude psychosis’ may have its own medical condition, one distinct from altitude sickness.

Published: 15-02-2018 08:38

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