What are Neurocognitive Disorders?
In the past, neurocognitive disorders were known by a different name, dementia. Today, these disorders are a group of illnesses centered on a decline in cognitive functioning, each with various signs and symptoms. Delirium is by definition caused by a reversible medical problem. Other disorders such as Neurocognitive Disorder due to Alzheimer’s Disease or Lewy Bodies require the careful diagnosis and treatment by a qualified geriatric psychiatrist.
Specific Neurocognitive Disorders:
- Major Neurocognitive Disorder
- Mild Neurocognitive Disorder
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Alzheimer’s Disease
- Major or Mild Frontotemporal Neurocognitive Disorder
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder With Lewy Bodies
- Major or Mild Vascular Neurocognitive Disorder
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Traumatic Brain Injury
- Substance/Medication-Induced Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to HIV Infection
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Prion Disease
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Parkinson’s Disease
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Huntington’s Disease
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition
- Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Multiple Etiologies
What are some general signs or symptoms of Neurocognitive disorders?
It is important to note that various patients suffering from mental illness may suffer cognitive deficits, but the neurocognitive disorders specifically refer to a decline in cognition from previously normal functioning. In general, patients may suffer from difficulties in environments with a lot of things happening at once; TV, phone, radio, conversations happening at the same time, and thinking in general just takes longer and is less robust. Patients may need to focus on one thing at a time and can find themselves repeating words during conversations. They may often use general terms like “that thing, that place” and have trouble with specifics. Patients may also engage in behavior that was previously socially unacceptable.
- Disturbance in sustained attention and awareness
- Memory deficits
- Language difficulty
- Perceptual difficulty
Major Neurocognitive Disorder:
- Decline from previous performance level
- Requires help paying bills or taking medications
- Difficulty with memory
- Language impairment
Minor Neurocognitive Disorder:
- Modest cognitive decline
- Decline does NOT interfere with independent living, but requires compensation and accommodation to continue functioning
Major or Mild Frontotemporal Neurocognitive Disorder
- Loss of sympathy/empathy
Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder Due to Alzheimer’s Disease:
- Insidious onset
- Decline in memory, learning, and another aspect of cognition like planning, language, etc.
- Genetic mutation/ family history
Major or Mild Neurocognitive Disorder With Lewy Bodies
- Fluctuating cognition
- Visual hallucinations
- Sensitivity to anti-psychotic medication (rigidity)
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Neurocognitive disorders can be especially difficult for family members and caregivers, and if you suspect that a loved one is suffering from one of the illnesses mentioned above, please contact us. Dr. Zinzuvadia uses a careful and nuanced approach to treat this patient population, and can even make home visits if necessary. The mainstay of treatment involves careful selection of medications, which can help with depressive symptoms, hallucinations, or anxiety. We use a multi-disciplinary treatment model including family, caregivers, geriatric care managers, and other physicians involved in the patient’s care.