Neurocognitive Disorders: Types, Causes, Risk factor & Treatment

Dr. Archana Shukla

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Archana Shukla


5 min read


Neurocognitive disorders are an umbrella term for conditions that affect cognitive functions like learning and speaking. There are various types of neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer's. Read on.

Key Takeaways

  • Neurocognitive disorders affect your cognitive functions and have many causes
  • There are different types of neurocognitive disorders with similar symptoms
  • Neurocognitive disorders treatment plan depends on the type of the disorder

Neurocognitive disorders are a group of conditions that affect your cognitive function. Although the term is often interchanged with dementia, it is not the same [1]. Neurocognitive disorders are a result of health conditions apart from psychiatric illnesses. There are different types of neurocognitive disorders caused for many reasons. These disorders can happen to anyone and at any stage.

The initial symptoms include: 

  • Memory issues  
  • Difficulty in performing routine tasks  
  • Understanding daily activities

The diagnosis of this disorders is based on your symptoms. Apart from that, it is also dependent on ruling out other mental health conditions. After that, the doctor will create a treatment plan for your condition. Neurocognitive disorder's causes and risk factors range from brain injury to mental illness. 

Signs of Neurocognitive Disorders 

Given that there are many neurocognitive disorders, the symptoms can vary for each. But the symptoms may often overlap with these and other mental conditions. Commonly experienced symptoms in various neurocognitive disorders are 

  • Changes in eyesight 
  • Loss of memory 
  • Headaches 
  • Anxiety or confusion 
  • Loss of concentration 
  • Inability to perform everyday tasks 
  • Trouble in motor function 
  • Agitation

To get a timely diagnosis and treatment, it is crucial to consult a doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms. This is because it is possible to reverse, treat or manage it. Getting timely treatment can help avoid complications or the worsening of the situation.

Additional Read: Epilepsy Seizure: Causes, Types, and SymptomsNeurocognitive Disorders

Types of Neurocognitive Disorders 

There are various types of neurocognitive disorders. One of the primary classifications is mild and major. Some this disorders are 

  • Parkinson's disease 
  • Huntington's disease 
  • Vascular dementia 
  • Alzheimer's 
  • Lewy body disease 
  • Frontotemporal degeneration 
  • Traumatic injury to the brain (TBI) 
  • Prion disease

The above-mentioned conditions are some neurocognitive disorders that can happen at any age. But some are more common in people over the age of 60. Despite its prevalence in the older generation, the symptoms are often overlooked. A primary reason for this is aging, as these symptoms also occur in older age without cause. By keeping some of these symptoms of this disorders in mind, you can help seniors detect the problem with the help of certain tests mentioned below.

Neurocognitive Disorders Causes and Risk Factors

The causes of neurocognitive disorders are generally classified into two categories. First, doctors consider conditions that are a result of a non-degenerative disorder. Second, doctors evaluate these conditions as a result of degenerative disorders. Read on to get an idea of both these causes, and keep in mind that the list below doesn't include all the causes.

Non-degenerative disorder causes include the following 

  • Concussion  
  • Excess consumption of drugs or alcohol  
  • Meningitis  
  • Traumatic injury  
  • Septicemia  
  • Blood clots
how to reduce risk of Neurocognitive Disorders

Degenerative Disorder Causes Include Diseases Like 

Risk factors for neurocognitive disorders depend on your lifestyle, habits, and environment. You may be at a higher risk if you: 

  • Are exposed to heavy or toxic metals regularly  
  • Have diabetes or other heart conditions 
  • Are you a senior (above the age of 60) 
  • Have high blood pressure

Diagnosis of Neurocognitive Disorders 

As mentioned above, the diagnosis of neurocognitive disorders includes tests and eliminating other mental disorders. The tests that a doctor may advise you to get may include 

  • PET scan  
  • CT scan 
  • EEG 
  • MRI of the head 
  • Lumbar puncture 

These tests help get doctors to reach an accurate diagnosis. This further ensures that you get the treatment and get onto the path of recovery sooner. Although you cannot reverse certain neurocognitive disorders, timely treatment can make them manageable.

Neurocognitive Disorders Treatment

The treatment plan for neurocognitive disorders is dependent on the cause and symptoms. In cases where it is not possible to treat the condition, doctors may prescribe medicines. These medicines may help ease the symptoms and pain you may be experiencing. In other cases, your treatment plan will include medicine, psychosocial therapy, or psychotherapy.  

Your doctor may also ask you to make some lifestyle and diet changes that can improve your condition. Some neurocognitive disorders may also be treated with adequate bed rest. This allows your body to heal better. Apart from all this, your doctor may also advise you to get surgery. This is usually the case when a patient has severe but repairable nerve damage.

Additional Read: 7 Most Common Types of Mental Illnesses

It can be challenging, especially if caused by a mental illness. As mentioned, the diagnosis of neurocognitive disorders can also be challenging. This is why you should talk to a doctor immediately if you see any signs. This can help you get treatment at the right time and protect your mental and physical well-being.

To get a doctor's consultation easily and quickly, book a consultation on Bajaj Finserv Health. You can get advice from experienced doctors via this platform and know how to take better care of yourself or a loved one. You can also get to know how social media and mental health are connected or how summer mental health or seasonal health care is important. Moreover, you can talk about mindfulness techniques that can help you take better care of your mental well-being. By being a little more proactive about your health, you can enjoy a better quality of life. So, get started right away!

Published on 6 Jul 2022Last updated on 12 Apr 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Archana Shukla

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Archana Shukla

, MBBS 1 , MD - Psychiatry 3


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