decompensate ‎(third-person singular simple present decompensates, present participle decompensating, simple past and past participle decompensated)

  1. (medicine, psychology, of a bodily organ or mental state) To deteriorate in function due to an inability to invoke normal defensive mechanisms that compensate for ailments and other stresses.
    • 1967, Virginia Pidgeon, "The Infant with Congenital Heart Disease," The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 67, no. 2, p. 291:
      The infant whose heart is decompensating has a rapid pulse, rapid respirations, and respiratory distress.
    • 1983, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, "A Proposal for the Aftercare of Chronic Psychiatric Patients," Medical Anthropology Quarterly, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 11-12:
      In some cases, the fragile individual, overwhelmed by the implicit demands and expectations for sociability, coherence, and "constructive" behavior, rapidly decompensates, taking flight into psychosis or protective withdrawal.

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