Mild neurocognitive disorders is often part of a larger cluster of disorders known as the neurocognitive disorders. Neurocognitive disorders are basically a collection of psychiatric conditions which include: major neurocognitive disorders, such as depressed moods, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, and moderate to severe neurocognitive disorders, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The symptoms and causes of these different types of neurocognitive disorders are very different but share certain symptoms. Here I will give an example of how depression can manifest itself with a neurocognitive condition.
As you see, depression can make it difficult for us to think, reason or remember things. It can wreak havoc on our emotions and our lives in general. This is due to a reduction in the flow of dopamine and noradrenalin through the brain. Neurocognitive scientists have discovered that patients suffering from the long-term type of depression have abnormal levels of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), which is produced by the neurons and controls mood, appetite and libido.
Other neurocognitive disorders involve impairments to higher cognitive abilities. These can include dyslexia, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. Usually these impairments to higher cognitive abilities are detected in patients who also have depression, which is another set of diseases we will be looking at shortly. Diagnostic Criteria for Neurocognitive Disorders:
Most neurocognitive disorders have two specific sets of diagnostic criteria. The first set of criteria involves the Presence of at least four of the five types of the above mentioned disorders. The second set of diagnostic criteria involves the Presence of at least three of the above mentioned disorders and a history of the patient having suffered depression or an anxiety episode in the past. It is important to note that the presence of at least one of the five types of the above mentioned disorders does not necessarily mean a diagnosis of Neurocognitive Disorder. This is why my clinic prefers to use the combined type of Neurocognitive Testing, which includes a battery of psychological tests designed to screen for both anxiety and depression symptoms.
There are other rare neurocognitive disorders that affect only the cognitive part of the brain. One of these disorders is the progressive supranuclear palsy. This disorder is caused by a disorder in the nuclear DNA of the cells. There is currently no treatment for this disease, and most people with this condition die in their early to mid twenties. The Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is similar to Alzheimer’s Disease in that it affects the cognitive aspect of the patient’s life.
The third set of symptoms is the presence of at least one of the above mentioned neurocognitive disorders, and a consistent history of depression or an anxiety episode in the past. There is currently no treatment for the three listed symptoms. Two of the disorders are caused by abnormal protein structures in the brain called amyloid plaques. These plaques grow and spread with time and can lead to severe and permanent memory loss. Most people with this condition have no known cause for the disorder, although studies are ongoing into the causes of Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as dementia and the amyloid plaques associated with it.
Neurocognitive dysfunction has been linked to a number of factors such as genetics, stress, medications, and poor diet. As the Neurocognitive Association becomes more defined, it will be easier for researchers to design effective treatments for patients with neurocognitive disorders and also to monitor and find risk factors for these patients. Because of the nature of many of these disorders, early diagnosis is extremely important. It may be too late for some patients to benefit from a standard medication regimen, but the earlier it is detected, the better the chance for prolonged survival and mental health.
Neurocognitive disease accounts for about half of all Alzheimer’s cases. The five main types of Neurocognitive Disorders are: Forgetting, Anxiety, Depression, Oppositional Defiance, and Dyslexia. There is a common misconception that all cases of Alzheimer’s are caused by dementia, when that is not the case. People with Alzheimer’s Disease have a number of different problems, so prevention is always the better approach.