Dementia: What Leads to a Major Neurocognitive Disorder?

“Currently, more than 55 million people live with dementia worldwide, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year.” Says the World Health Organization”

Though it is common to experience a slight memory loss as one grows older. However, memory loss can be triggered due to several reasons. A person diagnosed with dementia may experience loss of cognitive functions like memory, learning, attention, decision making, and language abilities.

What Is Dementia?

Dementia is a neurocognitive disorder characterized by losing cognitive functions like thinking, remembering, and reasoning. In other words, dementia is a common term mainly used to describe the symptoms that affect memory, thought processes, and social skills. Medical researchers estimate that around 5.8 million people living in the United States have dementia and related illnesses. Dementia can make it hard for a person to go through life’s daily activities.

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia diagnosed among older adults and may contribute to 60-70% of the cases. Though the occurrence of the memory loss function is a significant determinant of dementia, it can have other possible causes as well. Therefore, it is imperative to get a proper medical diagnosis if one starts facing symptoms of dementia. Getting early treatment for such a neurocognitive disorder can help stop the rapid progression of the disease.

What Are the Early Warning Signs of Dementia?

The symptoms of a neurocognitive disorder like dementia can vary among patients and mainly depend upon the specific cause that triggers it. In general, dementia causes healthy neurons or nerve cells to stop working.

As a result, the brain loses connections with other brain cells and resulting in the following warning signs of dementia:

  • Having difficulty finding the right words
  • Facing problems in remembering things
  • Difficulty in planning and carrying out tasks
  • Easily getting lost in familiar surroundings
  • Taking extra time to complete daily tasks
  • Hallucinating or experiencing paranoia
  • Difficulty with reasoning and problem solving
  • Forgetting the names of family members and friends
  • Frequent changes in the mood
  • Personality and behavioural changes
  • Asking the same questions repeatedly
  • Losing interest in daily activities or events
  • Experiencing confusion or disorientation

Also Read: Check Out The Root Cause Of Overthinking

Such symptoms could lead to a reduced quality of life if one does not get treated in time. A proper medical diagnosis is necessary to know the causes of dementia. Dementia is a type of neurocognitive disorder that advances with age. At the present moment, there is no cure for dementia.

However, by taking effective medication and undergoing rehabilitation and occupational therapy, one can ease the symptoms of dementia and make it more manageable.

What Are The Causes of Dementia?

A neurocognitive disorder like dementia does not occur solely for one reason. It can have many causes depending on the part of the brain affected. A medical professional like a neurologist can help uncover the specific causes of dementia that might need immediate medical attention. Some of the leading causes of dementia that one should watch for are as follows:

Degenerative neurological disorder:

Such disorders result from progressive degeneration(death) of nerve cells in the brain. It may result in Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, dementia with a Lewy body, and Huntington’s disease.

Such medical conditions are primarily incurable. People diagnosed with such illness can face problems with movement, mental functioning, and the ability to move, speak, and even breathe.

Vascular disorder:

A vascular disorder is a type of medical condition that affects the circulatory system in the body. When a person gets diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases and suffers multiple strokes, vascular dementia or multi-infarct dementia increases due to insufficient blood supply to the brain.

Traumatic Injury:

Researchers estimate that a person who suffers a traumatic injury due to car accidents, falls, or concussion may develop the symptoms of dementia. Traumatic head injury has been regarded as the third most common cause of dementia in people above 50 years.

Infection:

Though infection mainly leads to short-term cognitive impairment in the brain, which can easily be reversed. But people who already have a trajectory headed towards neurocognitive disorder can experience more persistent symptoms of dementia.

Some infections like HIV dementia complex or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease may lead to dementia symptoms by affecting the body’s central nervous system.

Substance abuse:

 

Man suffering from substance abuse

Researchers say that the acute use of alcohol and other harmful, illegal drugs can affect a person’s mental state and cause cognitive impairment. The longer a person remains exposed to alcohol and other drugs, the higher the chances of developing the neurocognitive disorder.

Check out some medicinal ways to deal with alcohol addiction: Disulfiram(Dizone).

Metabolic disorder:

The chances of developing dementia and related symptoms increase due to repeated episodes of low blood sugar(hypoglycemia) or conditions like Addison disease and Cushing disease.

To avoid brain dysfunction, it is necessary to treat such disorders early. Still, if left untreated, then the possibility of permanent brain damage such as dementia can occur.

Outlook

A neurocognitive disorder like dementia is usually incurable. Only 20% of the cases were found with reverse symptoms. Though taking an early treatment in medication and therapy can help ease the symptoms and make it a more manageable health condition.

An average person lives up to four to eight years after receiving the diagnosis; however, some can live as many as 20 years after proper treatment. Medical professionals often recommend getting full body checkups done at least twice every year to avoid the development of any underlying health complications.

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Julain Carter is mental health expert for Goodrxmedicine.com. He is an experienced clinical mental health counsellor with recognition in cognitive behavioural therapy. Julian’s sharp behavioural observations reflect in both his personal and professional life.