Cognitive Problem Symptoms, Causes and Effects
Cognitive disorders usually begin subtly but progress until they significantly impede the affected person's quality of life. It is important to understand 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 drastically impairs the cognitive function of an individual 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, affects approximately 5.1 million Americans.
What Causes a Cognitive Disorder?
Like many mental disorders, cognitive disorders are caused by a range of factors. Some are due to hormonal 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, especially during infancy.
Other common causes of cognitive disorder include substance abuse and physical trauma. When an area of the brain that influences 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 symptoms vary according to the particular disorder, but some common signs and symptoms overlap in many disorders. A few of the most common signs 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 further the disease progresses. Alzheimer's disease, for instance, starts with the patient showing very minor signs of forgetfulness. Sufferers may 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 mistakes. However, as the disease advances, the impacted 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 variety of ways, with emotional imbalance being one of the most common symptoms. Cognitive impairment is frustrating, and those struggling with it often react with emotional outbursts, making it hard for loved ones to help. Others may push people away in an attempt to isolate themselves, only making the problem worse. Other cognitive disorders have the opposite effect, causing the person to have dulled or nonexistent emotions.
Physical Symptoms of Cognitive Problems
Cognition problems often materialize in the form of visible outward symptoms. The impacted individual may seem dazed and confused, and their eyes might have a glazed appearance. Motor coordination is commonly impacted in both neurological and psychological cognitive disorders, and the individual may have unusual 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?
Several memory and cognitive function tests are offered online, but it is important to understand that these tests can only provide you a general idea concerning some of the symptoms that a person with a cognitive disorder might experience. A full medical exam is essential to impart an official diagnosis, and you need to consult with a physician before you start any form of treatment plan.
For more information about Dr. Linette's practice and Cognitive Problems in San Marcos, California, contact us at 760-875-2627 or visit our website at LinetteWilliamson.com and schedule your appointment today!