Cognitive Problem Symptoms, Causes and Effects
Cognitive disorders usually begin subtly but progress until they significantly hinder the impacted individual's quality of life. It is important to know 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 significantly impairs the cognitive function of a person 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, affects about 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 hormone imbalances in the womb, others to genetic predisposition and still others to environmental elements. Typical 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 trauma. When an area of the brain that affects cognitive function is damaged, either by the excessive use of drugs, by alcohol or from physical injury, those neurophysiological changes can result in cognitive dysfunction.
What Are the Symptoms of Cognitive Disorder?
Cognitive disorder signs differ according to the particular disorder, but 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 stages and symptoms increase in severity the more the disease progresses. Alzheimer's disease, for instance, begins with the patient showing very minor 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 progresses, the affected individual's memory becomes persistently impaired. They might 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 range of ways, with emotional imbalance being among the most common symptoms. Cognitive impairment is frustrating, and those experiencing it often react with emotional outbursts, making it difficult for loved ones to help. Others may push people away in an effort to isolate themselves, only making the problem worse. Some cognitive disorders have the opposite effect, causing the individual to experience dulled or absent emotions.
Physical Symptoms of Cognitive Problems
Cognition problems often materialize in the form of visible external symptoms. The impacted individual may seem dazed and confused, and their eyes might have a glazed look. Motor coordination is commonly affected in both neurological and psychological cognitive disorders, and the individual may have strange mannerisms or just 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?
Several memory and cognitive function assessments are offered online, but it is vital to understand that these tests can only give you a general idea concerning some of the symptoms that an individual with a cognitive disorder might experience. A full medical exam is essential to present a formal diagnosis, and you should consult a physician before you begin any kind of treatment plan.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and Cognitive Problems in Rancho Santa Fe, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!