Cognitive disorders usually begin subtly but progress until they significantly impede the affected individual's quality of life. It is important to recognize the different 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 a person to the point where typical 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 prevalent cognitive disorders, impacts roughly 5.1 million Americans.
What Causes a Cognitive Disorder?
Like many mental disorders, cognitive disorders are caused by a range of factors. Some are because of hormone imbalances in the womb, others to genetic predisposition and still others to environmental elements. Common environmental causes of cognitive disorders include a lack of adequate nutrients and interaction during vulnerable stages of cognitive development, especially during infancy.
Other common causes of cognitive disorder include substance abuse and physical injury. When an area of the brain that controls cognitive function is damaged, either by the excessive use of drugs, by alcohol or from physical trauma, those neurophysiological changes can result in 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. Some 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 instance, begins with the patient showing very small signs of forgetfulness. Individuals may forget names they know well, or they may have trouble remembering what they did recently. The initial symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's disease are usually indistinguishable from regular memory errors. However, as the disease progresses, the affected individual's memory becomes persistently impaired. They may have rare moments of clarity, but life is generally lived in a state of confusion.
Emotional Symptoms of Cognitive Problems
Cognitive problems materialize in a number of ways, with emotional imbalance being among the most common symptoms. Cognitive impairment is frustrating, and those suffering from it commonly react with emotional outbursts, making it difficult for family and friends to help. Others might push people away in an effort to isolate themselves, only making the problem worse. Some cognitive disorders have the opposite effect, causing the person to experience dulled or absent emotions.
Physical Symptoms of Cognitive Problems
Cognition problems often manifest in the form of visible outward symptoms. The impacted individual might appear dazed and confused, and their eyes might have a glazed look. Motor coordination is often impacted in both neurological and psychological cognitive disorders, and the person might have strange mannerisms or just a lack of balance and normal posture.
Short-Term and Long-Term Effects of Cognitive Instability
Cognitive instability comes with both short- and long-term effects. Some common 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, and 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 tests are available online, but it is important to understand that these tests can only provide you with a general idea concerning some of the symptoms that an individual with a cognitive disorder may experience. A full medical exam is necessary to impart an official diagnosis, and you should consult with a doctor before you start any form of treatment plan.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and Cognitive Problems in El Cajon, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!