Neurocognitive disorder is a general term that describes decreased mental function due to a medical disease other than a psychiatric illness. It is often used synonymously (but incorrectly) with dementia.
Organic mental disorder (OMS); Organic brain syndrome
Listed below are conditions associated with neurocognitive disorder.
BRAIN INJURY CAUSED BY TRAUMA
- Bleeding into the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage)
- Bleeding into the space around the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage)
- Blood clot inside the skull causing pressure on brain (subdural or epidural hematoma)
- Low oxygen in the body (hypoxia)
- High carbon dioxide level in the body (hypercapnia)
- Dementia due to many strokes (multi-infarct dementia)
- Heart infections (endocarditis, myocarditis)
- Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
- Alzheimer disease (also called senile dementia, Alzheimer type)
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
- Diffuse Lewy body disease
- Huntington disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Normal pressure hydrocephalus
- Parkinson disease
- Pick disease
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Thyroid disease (hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism)
- Vitamin deficiency (B1, B12, or folate)
DRUG AND ALCOHOL-RELATED CONDITIONS
- Alcohol withdrawal state
- Intoxication from drug or alcohol use
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (a long-term effect of excessive alcohol consumption or malnutrition)
- Withdrawal from drugs (such as sedative-hypnotics and corticosteroids)
- Any sudden onset (acute) or long-term (chronic) infection
- Blood poisoning (septicemia)
- Brain infection (encephalitis)
- Meningitis (infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord)
- Prion infections, such as mad cow disease
- Late-stage syphilis
Complications of cancer and cancer treatment with chemotherapy can also lead to neurocognitive disorder.
Other conditions that may mimic organic brain syndrome include:
Symptoms can differ based on the disease. In general, organic brain syndrome causes:
- Long-term loss of brain function (dementia)
- Severe, short-term loss of brain function (delirium)
Exams and Tests
Tests depend on the disorder, but may include:
Treatment depends on the underlying condition. Many conditions are treated mainly with rehabilitation and supportive care to help the person with activities lost due to areas where brain function is affected.
Medicines may be needed to reduce aggressive behaviors that can occur with some of the conditions.
Some disorders are short-term and reversible. But many are long-term or get worse over time.
People with neurocognitive disorder often lose the ability to interact with others or function on their own.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if:
- You have been diagnosed with organic brain syndrome and you are uncertain about the exact disorder.
- You have symptoms of this condition.
- You have been diagnosed with neurocognitive disorder and your symptoms become worse.
Beck BJ, Tompkins KJ. Mental disorders due to another medical condition. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 21.
Douglas VC, Josephson SA. Dementia and systemic disease. In: Aminoff MJ, Josephson SA, eds. Aminoff's Neurology and General Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2014:chap 61.
Fernandez-Robles C, Greenberg, DB, and Pirl, WF. Psycho-oncology: Psychiatric Co-morbidities and Complications of Cancer and Cancer Treatment. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 56.