What are neurocognitive disorders?
A wide range of mental health issues that affect the brain are referred to as neurocognitive disorders, formerly known as dementia. The term neurocognitive disorders refer to a group of illnesses that affect one’s mental abilities. Such a disorder does not occur at birth. Instead, they get it from a different illness that damages their brain. The term “dementia” was once used to describe a variety of conditions that are now classified as neurocognitive disorders, both mild and severe. Most frequently affecting the elderly, the conditions involve comparable cognitive decline and impairments. Cognitive performance declines in areas like attention, executive function, learning and memory, language, motor skills, or social cognition are the main symptoms shared by all of the conditions. These disorders can be extremely disabling and cause significant declines in people’s quality of life because cognition is so important to daily human functioning. There are three subsections: delirium, mild neurocognitive disorder, and severe neurocognitive disorder.
- Delirium- Delirium is an impairment of consciousness that most frequently affects elderly adults and is characterized by a disruption in attention and awareness. Delirium is a potentially fatal but treatable condition of the central nervous system (CNS), which frequently includes impairment of the sleep cycle, abnormal psychomotor activity, and perceptual disturbances. Another antecedent or developing neurocognitive disorder does not provide a more compelling explanation for the symptoms.
- Mild neurocognitive disorder- Mild neurocognitive disorders, also known as mild cognitive impairment (MCI), can be compared to normal ageing and major neurocognitive disorders as a middle ground. Since they typically take longer to develop than delirium, mild neurocognitive disorders are characterized by a progressive memory loss that may or may not progress to a major neurocognitive disorder.
- Severe neurocognitive disorder- Depending on how severe their symptoms are, neurocognitive disorders are classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Major Neurocognitive disorder, which is still referred to as dementia, is characterized by a significant decline in cognitive function and interference with independence, as opposed to mild neurocognitive disorder. It must not be brought on by delirium or another mental disorder in order to be diagnosed. They frequently come with another cognitive dysfunction as well. The gradual loss of memory and cognitive function is a lifelong symptom of dementia caused by non-reversible factors like ageing.
Among the most common neurocognitive disorders that are known:
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD)
- Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
- Parkinson’s disease (PD)
- Front temporal dementia (FTD)
- Lewy Body’s disease (LBD)
- Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP)
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH)
- Vascular dementia
- Huntington’s disease
- Traumatic brain injury
- Dementia/neurocognitive issues due to HIV infection
Symptoms of Neurocognitive Disorders
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, these disorders can be classified and diagnosed as major or mild also known as slight cognitive impairment. Typically, a neurocognitive disorder is considered mild if it has no impact on a person’s ability to live independently. Neurocognitive disorders can cause a wide range of symptoms in different people. This is so because a wide range of conditions can result in neurocognitive disorders. They may also have an impact on numerous areas of the brain, such as
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering
- Variations to a person’s typical behaviour
- Vision issues
- Increased anxiety
- Higher irritability
- Difficulty with daily tasks, such as driving and managing money
Frequently observe and assess the following symptoms, such as,
- Cognitive changes, such as memory loss, a tendency to get lost and increased difficulty performing daily tasks e.g., washing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and eating
- Mood swings brought on by neurologic conditions, especially when they are associated with symptoms like depression, anxiety, or mania that first manifested in later adulthood.
- Hallucinations, delusions, agitation or aggression, faulty judgment, a lack of insight, and a lack of empathy are examples of behavioral changes
Causes of Neurocognitive Disorders
The decline in cognitive abilities caused by neurocognitive disorders, which are acquired conditions caused by underlying brain pathology, is not a result of developmental processes. They result from brain damage in areas that affect language comprehension and use, planning and decision-making, hand-eye coordination, and the capacity to act in ways that follow social norms, such as dressing appropriately for the weather or occasion, evoking empathy, and carrying out routine tasks.
Treatment of Neurocognitive Disorders
Presently, there is no known cure for major neurocognitive disorders. Some medical procedures, however, can reduce cognitive decline’s symptoms or stop it in its tracks. The specific cause will largely determine the way you are treated. The development of symptoms may be slowed down or improved in some cases with cognitive training. For memory, problem-solving, or attention enhancement, this non-pharmacological treatment employs guided exercises. Specific cognitive functions are improved through this kind of skills training. The cause and symptoms of neurocognitive disorders will determine the treatment strategy. Doctors may prescribe medications in situations where the condition cannot be treated. These drugs could reduce any discomfort and symptoms you might be feeling. In other circumstances, medication, psychosocial therapy, or psychotherapy will all be part of your treatment plan.
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