Cognitive disorders are a type of mental health disorders that affect learning, memory, perception of surroundings and problem solving. The symptoms for these disorders vary, but it is widely accepted that they are represented by impaired perception, reasoning, memory and judgment. The types of cognitive disorders are: delirium, amnesia, dementia and cognitive disorder not otherwise specified. While the first three are well established and present symptoms that clearly places them in one category or the other, cognitive disorder not otherwise specified is presumed to be caused by a general medical condition of substance abuse that do not fall in the first three categories.
Most people falsely believe that mental illnesses cause only mental problems – they cause cognitive problems too. A person suffering from a mental illness can find it difficult to think clearly, to remember things, can have a hard time perceiving the environment and properly react to it. For some, these difficulties are only visible during episodes when the illness manifests itself. For others they are more persistent and evident. If the illness is correctly diagnosed and a proper treatment is followed, the individual with cognitive disorder should be able to have a productive life.
Cognitive disorder not otherwise specified can be experienced in different ways by different individuals, according to the affected area of the brain. Attention. Some people find it hard to concentrate when they read something, and thus missing out the important things in the article. After they finish reading, they realize that they remember little to nothing from what they previously read. Others have problems in paying attention to someone who’s talking to them or giving indications. Multi-tasking is a very common problem among people with cognitive disorder. Answering a question while searching information on a computer can be quite challenging.
Memory. The ability to remember verbal conversations, to recall audio memories is a problem for people with cognitive disorder. Directions, contents of a book or even names when meeting new people are easily forgotten and can be quite difficult to recall. Most people do not have trouble in remembering patterns and routines that they know, but remembering new information that they’ve learned is very challenging. Memory loss is very common in early stages of certain illnesses (like schizophrenia) or is a normal result of aging, this being a reason why it’s hard to diagnose cognitive disorders. People who abuse drugs or alcohol also tend to have problems in remembering things, problems in thinking or attention. If the substance abuse is combined with a mental illness, the symptoms can be even worse.
Processing and responding to information. Some may notice on a person that it takes longer for them to respond to a question or just talking, maintaining a constant flow in the conversation. It’s very unusual if a conversation contains a 30 seconds delay before each response.
Thinking skills. Problem solving, adapting, critical thinking, organization can all be affected and this can be observed. Take for example the action of cooking a meal. You have to prepare all of the ingredients, all the recipients and tools and proper time each action. A person of cognitive disorder not otherwise specified will have difficulties managing all the items, will probably forget some of them and couldn’t easily find a solution when a problem arises (like a missing ingredient or burned food).
Cognitive impairment may be accompanied by other symptoms specific to the triggering factor: disease, disorder or condition. This could lead to an improper diagnose and the problem to get worse. As soon as the disorder is identified and the treatment started, the higher are the chances for recovery or regression.
Cognitive impairment can accompany symptoms related to infection, such as: fever, nausea, vomiting, headache, rash, stiff neck, muscle twitching, spasms or seizures.
Symptoms related to metabolic disorders that accompany cognitive disorders are: abdominal pain, fatigue, feeling very thirsty, changes in skin, difficulty breathing or breathing rapidly, difficulty with reading, writing, talking, thinking, loss of vision and motion troubles, changes in sleep patterns and in mood, personality or behavior.
Some of the symptoms that accompany cognitive disorder not otherwise specified can be life-threatening. In this case, immediate assistance should be provided. The symptoms include: passing out or unresponsiveness, confusion, delirium, hallucinations, slurred speech or inability to speak, very high fever, high-pitched cries in an infant or small child, irritability, eye pain, sudden change in vision, trauma to the head or the worst headache of your life.
The impact of cognitive disorder can be quite visible in society, school, work and relationships alike. People with this illness can have problems living alone. It is well known that ability to solve problems and remember verbal conversations are essential for home management, finances, health issues and shopping. In school, the first years are formative so, for a student with cognitive disorder it’s very common to fall behind in classes due to attention and concentration difficulties. These issues also tend to affect the work experience of the above people and they tend to be unemployed or find work very hard. Relationships could be very rewarding for someone with this problem. Having someone close who one can rely on can help a lot and can make a big difference towards social integration.