Mental Disorders or Dementia?

Q:
Is my condition a mental disorder or dementia?

A:
Many people undergo the dementia-like symptoms as they are getting old. However, is it the true case of dementia? It’s not easy to know. But the fact is, more than 50 conditions can mimic the symptoms of dementia.

The following are some common conditions that may be mistaken as dementia.

Delirium
It can cause changes in mental functioning that closely resemble dementia, but there are two important differences:

  • Speed of onset. The mental changes in delirium develop quickly, often in a matter of hours or days. In contrast, dementia evolves over months or years.
  • Level of consciousness. In delirium, consciousness is either clouded or fluctuates between drowsiness and alertness. Dementia doesn’t affect the level of consciousness.

Depression
People sometimes manifest dementia-like symptoms, such as forgetfulness, disorientation, inattentiveness, and slowed responses when they are depressed. This so-called pseudodementia.

Vitamin B12 deficiency
Dementia could be a symptom of pernicious anemia, a rare condition caused by low levels of vitamin B12. In older people, the first symptoms of pernicious anemia are often confusion, slowness, irritability and apathy.

Tumors
Brain tumors can interfere with cognitive functioning and cause personality changes. Depending on their location, they can trigger other symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, or vomiting.

Hematomas
They are blood clots due to bruising. When located in the subdural area, between the brain surface and the thin membrane that covers it, they can cause symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease.

Thyroid disease
An overproduction of thyroid hormones commonly results from Graves’ disease, while an underproduction usually results from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Both disorders can cause dementia-like symptoms.

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypothyroidism

Alcoholism
Consuming excessive alcohol for a long time can cause impaired thinking that resembles Alzheimer’s disease.

So if you notice some signs abnormal, turn to the doctor for diagnosis. Do not make simple judgement by yourself.

 

Keywords: mental disorders like dementia

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.