[ dee-kom-puhn-seyt ]
/ di藞k蓲m p蓹n藢se瑟t /
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Definition of decompensate

verb (used without object), de路com路pen路sat路ed, de路com路pen路sat路ing.
Psychology. to lose the ability to maintain normal or appropriate psychological defenses, sometimes resulting in depression, anxiety, or delusions.
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鈥淲as鈥 is used for the indicative past tense of 鈥渢o be,鈥 and 鈥渨ere鈥 is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of decompensate

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2022


What does聽decompensate mean?

To decompensate means to lose the ability to maintain one鈥檚 state of mental health, typically due to some kind of stress.

The word decompensate is most often applied to someone who is having a breakdown in their mental health mechanisms, especially someone who has an existing mental illness or psychological condition.

Example: If the patient loses their normal support system, they may decompensate, resulting in an aggravation of their condition.

Where does聽decompensate come from?

Decompensate is a combination of the prefix de-, indicating reversal or negation, and the word compensate, which comes from the Latin word comp膿ns膩re, which means to 鈥渃ounterbalance.鈥

This balance is what is lost when someone decompensates. In psychology, compensation is the term for when someone tries to make up for a real or imagined flaw in their personality or behavior by emphasizing another part of their personality or substituting another behavior. Decompensating is not quite the opposite of this sense of compensation. Instead, it is the loss of an ability to cope, especially due to stress that causes symptoms to get worse. When this happens, someone who is decompensating often starts to have difficulty with normal life activities. The decompensation can then result in depression, anxiety, or delusions. There are different signs that can indicate that a person is decompensating. Depending on their condition, they may act withdrawn, suddenly irritable, or restless, or they may have a lack of motivation. It is important to be aware of such changes in yourself and others so that steps can be taken to maintain mental wellness.

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What are some other forms of decompensate?

  • decompensation (noun)

What are some words that share a root or word element with decompensate?聽

What are some words that often get used in discussing decompensate?

How is聽decompensate used in real life?

Decompensate is most commonly used in the context of psychology, especially in discussion of what factors can result in certain people losing the ability to maintain their mental health.



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The following symptoms may be seen in someone who is decompensating: increased anxiety, excess tiredness, lack of motivation, and increased irritability.

How to use decompensate in a sentence