Many people assume that getting forgetful is just an unavoidable part of aging, but dementia goes beyond normal forgetfulness. There are different types and causes of dementia.
If you or a loved one is noticing changes in thinking or the ability to function, a comprehensive exam by an experienced psychiatrist is essential. Continuing psychiatric care will ensure that the condition is monitored and managed in the best way possible.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a progressive illness that affects a person’s mental and physical function, thereby interfering with the person’s ability to continue normal daily activities. The disease can also hurt a person’s ability to control emotions or even alter the patient’s personality.
With dementia, nerve cells and the nerve pathways that allow us to think and learn become damaged and die. Though we all lose some neural capacity as we age, dementia destroys a far greater number of neurons than what is caused by normal aging.
Types of Dementia
There are varying types and degrees of dementia and related memory disorders, including the following:
This is the most common and best-known type of dementia. It most often occurs in adults over the age of 60. Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease can start in early adulthood, but it is very rare.
Ongoing research points to tangles of proteins called amyloid plaques as either the cause or result of the disease process in Alzheimer’s. These sticky protein plaques accumulate between neurons, and this accumulation disrupts the connections and thought processes.
The disease leads to the death of nerve cells and nerve connections throughout the brain. Patients lose memory, can experience mood changes, can forget family members and lose the ability to recognize them, and can eventually lose the ability to perform basic functions.
People with vascular dementia experience similar symptoms to patients with Alzheimer’s, but the disease is caused by a series of small strokes that affect blood supply to the brain. Smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes increase risk for vascular dementia.
Lewy Body Dementia
This condition has similar symptoms to those of Alzheimer’s, but it involves abnormal protein deposits called Lewy bodies. These alpha-synuclein protein deposits interfere with thinking, movement, and moods.
These involve the areas of the brain that control reasoning and cognitive thinking. Sometimes, loved ones notice changes in the habits and personality of their loved one before a patient is aware of anything wrong. It most often affects adults in middle age.
How Regular Psychiatric Visits Help Dementia
Mental health is a complex field, so seeing a qualified psychiatrist is essential if you notice a decline in your thinking capacity or in the capacity of a loved one. There are many reasons that a person might experience a change in mental status: medications, depression, severe vitamin deficiencies, even hearing loss.
These can all lead to changes in the way a person interacts with others and how he or she carries on daily life. Therefore, it’s essential to get a thorough examination to determine the exact cause.
Being incorrectly diagnosed, or not getting an early diagnosis of dementia, can harm long-term outcomes. Because dementia is a long-term and progressive condition, getting an early diagnosis allows you to plan ahead and put a health care plan in place.
Although there is a large scientific effort underway to halt the progress of dementia and to find a cure, results have been mixed. Because new discoveries occur every day, and new clinical trials are approved for research, it’s very important that you see a psychiatrist who is at the forefront of the latest advances in the field.
Who Can I Talk to About Dementia?
Dementia is a scary word, so it can help to learn more about the condition and how to deal with its effects. Having a trusted doctor who is familiar with you and your loved one is essential in managing the challenges that dementia can present.
If you or someone you love is struggling with memory loss, mental health, or pain, contact Psy-Visions. We offer comprehensive, responsive care tailored to your individual needs.
Psychiatrist Dr. Mark Stracks provides customized treatment that addresses the underlying physical and emotional issues causing your symptoms. Call us at (203) 405-1745 or use our online form to request a consultation with Dr. Stracks. We can provide the supportive care you need to help you resume control of your life.