Cognitive Problem Symptoms, Causes and Effects
Cognitive disorders typically begin subtly but progress until they significantly hinder the affected individual's quality of life. It is important to recognize the various cognitive disorders, their symptoms and appropriate 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 approximately 5.1 million Americans.
What Causes a Cognitive Disorder?
Like most mental disorders, cognitive disorders are caused by a range of factors. Some are because of hormonal imbalances in the womb, others to genetic predisposition and still others to environmental factors. Typical 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 injury, those neurophysiological changes can lead to cognitive dysfunction.
What Are the Signs of Cognitive Disorder?
Cognitive disorder signs differ according to the particular disorder, however some common signs and symptoms overlap in many 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 phases and symptoms increase in severity the more the disease progresses. Alzheimer's disease, for instance, begins with the individual showing very small signs of forgetfulness. Individuals might forget names they know well, or they might have trouble remembering what they did recently. The first symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's disease are often indistinguishable from normal memory errors. 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 materialize in a number of ways, with emotional imbalance being one of the most frequent symptoms. Cognitive impairment is frustrating, and those struggling with it commonly react with emotional outbursts, making it hard for family and friends to help. Others may push people away in an attempt to isolate themselves, only making the problem worse. Some cognitive disorders have the opposite effect, causing the individual to have dulled or absent emotions.
Physical Symptoms of Cognitive Problems
Cognition problems often materialize in the form of visible outward symptoms. The impacted person might seem dazed and confused, and their eyes may have a glazed look. Motor coordination is commonly impacted in both neurological and psychological cognitive disorders, and the individual 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, 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 might experience. A complete medical exam is needed to impart a formal diagnosis, and you need to consult with a doctor before you start any form of treatment plan.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and Cognitive Problems in Rancho Bernardo, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!