Cognitive Problem Symptoms, Causes and Effects
Cognitive disorders usually start subtly but progress until they significantly impede the impacted person's quality of life. It is important to recognize the various cognitive disorders, their symptoms and relevant treatment options.
What Are the Types of Cognitive Disorders?
Cognitive disorders are a part of the neurocognitive disorder classification in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Cognitive disorders are defined as any disorder that considerably impairs the cognitive function of an individual to the point where normal functioning in society is impossible without treatment. Some common cognitive disorders include:
- Developmental disorders
- Motor skill disorders
- Substance-induced cognitive impairment
- Alzheimer's disease, one of the most common cognitive disorders, impacts about 5.1 million Americans.
What Causes a Cognitive Disorder?
Like most mental disorders, cognitive disorders are caused by a variety of factors. Some result from hormone imbalances in the womb, others to genetic predisposition and still others to environmental factors. Common environmental causes of cognitive disorders include a lack of proper nutrients and interaction during vulnerable stages of cognitive development, particularly during infancy.
Other common causes of cognitive disorder include substance abuse and physical injury. When an area of the brain that affects cognitive function is damaged, either by the excessive use of drugs, by alcohol or from physical trauma, those neurophysiological changes can cause cognitive dysfunction.
What Are the Signs of Cognitive Disorder?
Cognitive disorder signs vary according to the particular disorder, however some common signs and symptoms overlap in most disorders. A few of the most common symptoms of cognitive disorder consist of:
- Poor motor coordination
- Loss of short-term or long-term memory
- Identity confusion
- Impaired judgment
Some cognitive disorders develop in stages and symptoms increase in severity the further the disease progresses. Alzheimer's disease, for example, begins with the individual showing very minor signs of forgetfulness. Individuals may forget names they know well, or they might have trouble remembering what they did recently. The initial symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's disease are typically indistinguishable from normal memory mistakes. However, as the disease advances, the affected individual's memory becomes persistently impaired. They may have rare moments of clarity, but life is usually lived in a state of confusion.
Emotional Symptoms of Cognitive Problems
Cognitive problems manifest in a variety of ways, with emotional imbalance being among the most prevalent symptoms. Cognitive impairment is frustrating, and those struggling with it often react with emotional outbursts, making it hard for family and friends to help. Others might push people away in an attempt to isolate themselves, only making the problem worse. Some cognitive disorders have the opposite effect, causing the person to have dulled or absent emotions.
Physical Symptoms of Cognitive Problems
Cognition problems commonly manifest in the form of visible outward symptoms. The affected person may appear dazed and confused, and their eyes may have a glazed appearance. Motor coordination is frequently affected in both neurological and psychological cognitive disorders, and the person might have unusual mannerisms or simply a lack of balance and normal posture.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Cognitive Instability
Cognitive instability includes both short- and long-term effects. Some frequent short-term effects include memory loss, a state of confusion and a lack of coordination. Long-term effects include the increasing loss of declarative memory, such as forgetting names and significant faces, as well as a general lack of emotional stability and control over one's actions.
Is There a Test or Self-Assessment I Can Do?
Different memory and cognitive function exams are offered online, but it is vital to understand that these tests can only give you a basic idea concerning some of the symptoms that a person with a cognitive disorder may experience. A full medical exam is needed to present a formal diagnosis, and you need to consult with a doctor before you start any form of treatment plan.