An Unapparent, yet enduring pain Agonizingly more dramatic than physical strain Mental
illness pictures as disgrace and dishonour For it is a taboo to the world Take a leap of faith
confer with your kin So as to bid adieu to half of what ails.
Mental disorders comprise a broad range of problems, with various symptoms. They are
generally characterized by some combinations of abnormal thoughts, emotions and behaviour.
Individuals who have a mental illness don't necessarily look like they are sick, especially if
their illness is mild. But in severe cases, individuals may show visible symptoms such as
confusion agitation or withdrawal. Like other diseases
, mental disorders may become
severe too and can cost ones life. Reports indicate that 50% of the population experiences
at least one mental disorder in their lifetime and at least 25% of the population has
suffered from it during the past 12 months. There are numerous mental disorders like stress
related disorders, anxiety and mood disorders, schizophrenia and delusional disorders,
substance misuse disorders, organic disorders, personality disorders, and eating disorders.
Determinants of Mental Health
Various social, psychological and biological factors determine the mental health of a
person at any point of time. Poor mental Health
may also be associated with rapid social
change, stressful working conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy
, lack of physical health and violations of human rights.
Types of Mental Disorders
Stress Related Disorder
Stress disorders are defined as a stressful or traumatic behaviour from which
a person has difficulty in recovering. There can be various types of stress
Acute Stress Disorder
Disorders which develop within one hour of a traumatic event are known as acute stress
disorders. Their symptoms usually subside within an hour which include anxiety, anger,
depression, altered activity and withdrawal. The symptoms usually resolve completely
within few days.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
It is a Chronic
disorder that is experienced after a severe stress or a traumatic event such
as a natural disaster. The symptoms include recurrent intrusive memories, disturbed sleep,
nightmares and avoidance of situations that evoke memory
It is caused due to a major psychosocial stress or life event such as divorce, job loss,
loss of close ones, etc. Their symptoms appear within one month of the event and generally
subside by six months.
Anxiety disorder are those which produce a feeling of constant fear or worry.
Its characteristic features are persistent, unrealistic and excessive worry about
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)- A Compulsion Beyond Control
Intake of alcohol along with drug abuse, fear of insignificant events of life and depression
can provoke a psychological problem called OCD. Those affected with OCD do not hold a
firm grip on the kind and nature of thoughts that their mind generates. A forced feeling to
repeatedly think about certain aspects of their life haunts them for atleast one hour per day. Along with this, a forced repetitive behavioral
cycle is seen among them. Generally, the nature of thoughts that affect the patients of
OCD are fear of contamination and fear of harming themselves. An exaggerated fear of
dirt drives them to clean their hands, things or their homes repetitively.
Panic Disorder- A Common Ignored Problem-
It is a type of anxiety disorder with a characteristic feature of repetitive and unexpected
panic attacks. These attacks are defined as a period of intense fear in which four or more
of the symptoms including palpitation, sweating, fear of dying, shivering, sensation of
choking, nausea or chest pain develop suddenly and reach peak levels within 10 minutes.
Phobic Anxiety Disorder- Phobia can be defined as abnormal and
excessive fear of an object or a situation (such as fear of closed places). Phobias can be
categorized into the following types:
- Fear of animals
- Phobia of natural environment
(such as heights, depth, water)
- Blood or injury related phobia
- Fear of Situations (getting stuck in
- Other miscellaneous types
It mainly involves those disorders
that has an effect on the mood of an individual. There are various types of mood
disorders such as depression, mania and bipolar disorder.
Depression- A Misunderstood Term-
It is a common, yet a serious mood disorder. It can have severe consequences that
affect how one feels, thinks or handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating or
working. Its symptoms include persistent sad or anxious mood feeling of restlessness,
guilt and worthless-ness, loss of interest in hobbies, decreased energy levels and
thoughts of suicide.
Bipolar Disorder- The Maniacs - It includes both manic and depressive
episodes separated by periods of normal mood. People who have manic attacks but, do not
experience depressive episodes are also classified as having bipolar disorder. The usual
symptoms are irritable mood, difficulty to speak, reduced sleep and hyper activity.
Individuals with schizophrenia usually hear voices (auditory hallucinations), which often
criticise them. The voices may directly communicate with the patient and comment on his/her
actions. Also, the patient may hear the two voices criticizing the patient among themselves.
This may lead to certain strong delusions or beliefs. It presents in early adulthood or late
adolescence. The common symptoms are hallucinations, thought disorder, social withdrawal,
self neglect and lack of motivation.
A delusion is a belief that is clearly false and that indicates an abnormality in the
affected person's content of thought. Individuals with this disorder feel and/or
hear non existential things. They often hear noises which trouble them constantly
as well as other illogical beliefs that may keep them confused. ? Substance Misuse
Disorders These are caused due to excessive
consumption of substance like drug and alcohol. Chronic intake of drugs can cause
schizophrenia like symptoms, whilst excessive alcohol consumption can lead to
improper speech, ataxia, emotional incontinence and aggression.
These are medical conditions rather than psychiatric disorders. They are sometimes
misdiagnosed as they present themselves with disturbed behavior like:
It is a condition characterized by progressive decline of cognitive function
(memory, reasoning and associated functions). Symptoms of dementia are gradual
and persistent for a long duration
It is a confused state of mind, which usually develops in elderly and is characterised
by lack of focus, altered consciousness and reduced reasoning ability. Conditions like
dementia, poor hearing, low vision and older age act as risk factors for this condition.
It is a set of characteristics and behavioural traits which can affect a person's interaction
with the outside world. It is diagnosed when an individuals personality cause severe problems
for the person himself or others.
These are disorders associated with abnormal eating behaviours. The
common ones are anorexia nervosa,orthorexia
nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
Orthorexia Nervosa- In this
condition people are obsessed with
proper nutrition. Such Individuals
show characteristics such as
restrictive diet, ritualized patterns of
eating and strong avoidance of food
that is believed to be unhealthy.
Although, it is driven by a desire to
achieve optimum health, orthorexia
may lead to nutritional deficiencies
It is the nature of having extreme
consciousness about the size, shape
and weight of the body. 80-90% of
the patients with anorexia are
females. People having this
condition do over-exercise and
overactivity to burn calories. They
choose to stand rather than sit and
generate opportunities to be
physically active. Generally, they are drawn to sports, athletics and dance.
Unlike anorexia, bulimia patients have near normal weight, but display a morbid
fear of becoming fat; thereby, leading to disordered eating. They show features
like binge eating (uncontrollable eating) often followed by selfinduced vomiting.
Better Understanding-A stepping stone to prevention
Prevention begins with being aware, to understand of the early warning signs and
symptoms of mental illness, parents and teachers can encourage skill development
in children and adolescents which may help them cope with everyday challenges that
they may face in the outside world. Psychosocial support can as well be provided in
schools or other community settings. Also, health workers and counselors can efficiently
work towards detecting the condition aptly, thus creating a way to put the mental disorders
Mood and Anxiety Disorders Overlooked Ones
Stress, tension and fear that something would go wrong are, some emotional, uncomfortable
conditions of life. These can very well give rise to other diseases
, the most difficult one being
a psychiatric disorder. A stressed person is not able to solve the problems he/she is entangled
in, via a positive attitude. Living in this phase can make their life, disturbed and problematic
which in turn gives rise to psychiatric disorders.
Stress-Initiator of Psychiatric Problems!
Early life stress has been shown to exert profound short and long term effects on the
physiology of the body. The bitter experiences are hard to erase from memories. Frequent
stress in any phase of life has demonstrated clear association with many psychiatric disorders.
The conditions that may arise in such a scenario are anxiety, mood disorders, depression, post
traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder. They may occur along with depression alone, or
in combination with mania. These disorders disturb the life of an individual tremendously.
It is a mental illness that continuously affects the emotional state of the person.
Depression, resulting from mood disorder may affect disabled, chronically ill as well
as normal individuals Reports across the globe states it to be a major cause of disability
Understanding Anxiety Disorders
Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life but a condition wherein an individual is
affected by worry, fear or trauma and related condition repeatedly as well as inappropriately,
is termed as anxiety disorder. Due to recurrent events of worry, frequency of these disorders
get increased and converts to highly disturbing form of psychiatric disorders. For diagnosis,
the psychiatrist usually asks if the person is a worrier or if they worry much about many things.
This disorder is highly prevalent in children and teenagers with estimates of 11.6% prevalence
in adolescents alone."
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder,
panic disorder and phobiarelated disorders. These disorders are mostly overlooked
and are highly common, and potentially debilitating that are many a times not
understood in the right sense.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder
An individual is said to suffer from anxiety disorder when he or she is worried or anxious
about any situation or circumstances in their life. Reason can vary from some discomfort
in life to some trauma. The level of anxiety and worry is often high in the individuals suffering
from this disorder.
People undergoing recurrent, unexpected panic attacks have panic disorder. Panic attacks
in simple terms are the periods of sudden intense fear that reach abrupt peak levels. It can
occur at any point of time and is triggered by certain specific situation or object.
The person suffering from this disorder fear from an object or situation upto an extent
which is more in proportion to the harm that can actually happen from it.
These individuals usually remain irritated and their duration of fear or worry ranges from
days to weeks. It is further of two types: specific phobia and social phobia.
Factors Triggering the Disorders
The cause of these disorders can be biological, psychological or may even emerge from
societal factors which can be categorized as under
The biological cause of psychiatric disorders can be genetic mutation (increase or decrease
in the DNA material that is genes or chromosomes). Huntington's disease, wherein brain cells
(nerve cells) break gradually over a period of time, is one such condition. Disturbances or change
during the development of the brain before or after the birth can be another cause.
Any stress or trauma in childhood or in adulthood may give rise to the psychological
disorders. Most commonly they are noticed either in childhood, or in adolescence and
may arise due to abuse, perceived stress or trauma. These disorders affects the personality
of an individual to a great extent because as the illness increases with time, it impairs the
manner in which a person behaves, feels, thinks and reacts.
Social and Environmental Factors
A poor social life can trigger psychiatric illness; depression being the major result of it.
Isolation from the social environment makes a person feel lonely which acts as a further
aggravating factor. Some condition can drastically worsen the situations like loss of a near
one. Such depressing condition may lead to severe psychological illness. Depression alone
affects 350 million people worldwide.
Management of Psychological Disorders
Treatment through psychological counselling and drug consumption approaches works
in combination or singly. The criteria adopted depends on the condition of the patient
whether mild, moderate, or severe.
Psychological treatment is given to the ones suffering from anxiety disorders. During
the treatment, they are desensitized to negativity or fear whichever may be the cause.
Additionally they are kept in a relaxing environment to restrict the development of illness.
Drug treatment includes prescription of antidepressants which helps the patients to relax
and decrease the anxiety, worry or fear that disturbs them .
Therapeutic Approach- A Helping Hand
Help from the psychiatrists can be described as an umbrella under which the therapist
understands the condition of a patient by interacting and understanding him/her. They
gradually introduce them to ways or techniques by which the patients can modulate the
anxiety, fear and worry, and replace their anxious reaction with relaxing techniques.
Though it's a huge struggle and fight,
But every step towards the right, Will show the results to tame the plight,
However depressing the situation may be,
Just keep yourself shining upright...
The Grievous Psychotic Disorders
Disorder of the Mind
Disturbances in a person's thoughts, mood and behavior leading to psychiatric
(mental illness) and medical conditions give rise to psychotic disorders.
Psychosis is a symptom seen in such disorders that comprises the following:
1. Hallucinations-Seeing, feeling or hearing things that do not exist.
2. Delusions-Unusual or bizarre ideas.
3. Unorganized thinking leading to muddled speech, which is difficult to understand
Schizophrenia, a major mental disorder, can present the symptoms of Psychosis
These symptoms grow slowly and initially affect the mental functio- ning. It first targets the
memory and makes it difficult to concentrate and understand things. Then with time the symptoms
grow stronger, making an individual feel unwelcomed in social life. Compulsions to withdraw from
social groups and gatherings, drawing towards loneliness marks the person to have a psychotic illness.
Depression and social anxiety disorder develop in sync with these effects. Overall, they feel
demoralized or are poorly motivated towards day to day activities and their life.
Leads that Generate Psychosis
Family history of Schizophrenia is the most common cause, with direct relatives of such
patients having upto 6.5% risk of developing this mental disorder. This percentage rises
sharply to 40% for twins (monozygotic-twins from same embryo). Improper functioning
of Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) gene, required for development of neuronal cells (brain cells),
doubles the risk of Psychotic disorders. Dysbindin (DTNBP1) and DISC1 are among the
other genes that are required for development of brain but, dysfunctional forms have been
found to be associated with psychotic disorders.
Premature birth and low body weight immediately after birth generally make such
babies prone to psychotic disorder. A condition called perinatal hypoxia wherein there
is deprivation of oxygen to the cells in infants (new born babies) during birth, can harm
the infant's brain and make them prone to develop psychotic disorders.
Book a Full Body Checkup
Social Behavior- A social network connects an individual to other members of the society
and establishes a defined relationship that allows them to befriend people and develop a
sense of belonging. However, with poor social interactions and involvement, the probability
of developing psychotic disorders increase. Such patients are generally found to have a small
group of friends and family, exhibiting poor communication with most members.
An excruciating event, particularly in childhood or in adulthood days,
can cause mental trauma that can last
forever in an individual's mind. Potential risk factors include:
Sexual, physical or emotional abuse
Bullying in schools or colleges.
Migration from one place to another
Emotional neglect by family.
So, when these traumatic events are
experienced with grief and shock, a
natural response to show a change
in the in thoughts and emotions may occur.
Lifestyle Factors- Tobacco
smoking is more common in people
with psychotic disorders as
compared to general population.
Diet and physical activity is strongly
associated with mental illness and
often considered to hold potential
therapeutic effect, if attained with
care. Less than 30% patients are
physically inactive and exhibit
lethargic behavior, they eat food
with high sugar content, with little to
no consumption of vegetables and fruits.
Abusive usage of drugs not only leads to psychological discomfort but also
generates psychological ill effects. Cocaine, amphetamines and cannabis can
induce hallucinations and delusions.
Psychosis- Factored by Medical conditions .
Schizophrenia It is a mental
disorder that shows varied symptoms, creating illusions and
delusions. Further cognitive abilities
such as memory, focus and attention
are impaired. An abnormality in
functioning and signaling of brain is
the biological cause of
messenger and its receptor in the
brain which transmits signals for
optimum functioning are altered to
generate a defect. Hence, making it
difficult for the body to coordinate
with the brain and because of this
such patients also find difficulty in
speaking. Many such messengers
like serotonin and glutamate play
their role to disable the brain.
Genetic factors play a vital role in
causing schizophrenia but other
factors also chip in with their
influence to bring about this mental disorder
Schizotypal (personality) Disorder:
It is a mild type of Schizophrenia, where an individual shows a gentle to strong
discomfort towards close family and friends. This disorder creates strong false
illusion and perception to see unreal things. Ideas of suspiciousness and magical
thinking start developing and eventually may lead to complete psychotic conditions.
A broad range of psychotic symptoms speak for delusional disorders magnitude and
its grave affect. Hallucinations and delusions are strong symptoms that trouble the
patients, creating a - sensory perception of non existe ntial things. So, reality is not
understood by them. One of the common conundrum that they face is hearing their
name being called out consistently. They can feel their thoughts being heard by them
and echo of the same noises keep troubling them. Delusion further causes them to affix
to false beliefs about reality. In a study done on delusional patients, it was reported that
they believe that they will lose money from their bank accounts. Despite bank statements
shown to them, the symptom does not improve..
Major type of delusional disorder also causes parasitosis; patients believe that bugs or
insects are present on their skin and their
Consultation can Bring Ease to Life !!
Patients diagnosed early found consultation to be immensely helpful and have created
soothing effects in their minds. Further, a strong network of friends and families along
with regular psychiatric evaluation completes all basis required to conquer the condition.
A medical practitioner may prescribe a medicinal course which shall enhance the ability to
see and feel things clearly and eliminate the threat of developing strong psychotic symptoms.
Pain is not always physiological!!
"A mountain of psychological mess that
diminishes the line between reality and
fantasy summons a fictitious grief
creating a disorder of the mind."
Obsessions and Mania rare, Deliriums too!
We all feel sad sometimes, we often feel lonely on some days and experience mood swings
many a time. But, when our mind goes beyond our control we call it mental illness. It is a
condition that can be defined as any Health
issue, which may change a person's thinking,
feelings or behavior. Individuals who have a mental illness mostly don't look like they are
sick, especially if it's mild. There are serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, delusional
disorder while others like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), mood disorders and dementia
too need attention. Each of them alters a person's thoughts, feelings or behaviors in distinct ways.
Mania or manic phase, is a condition where individuals experience a change in normal behavior
that drastically affects their functioning for a period of one week or more. It is usually seen to
happen along with psychotic features, which includes hallucinations or delusions. Patients may
start believing that they are high-level operatives such as spies, members of secret agencies and
many more even when they do not have any such background! Some people may also experience
hearing or visual hallucinations, which is only present when they are in the manic phase. Some of
the most common delusions are Paranoia, wherein patients believe that
people are stalking, targeting and monitoring them. They may believe that this stalking is
done by government agencies, gangs or others. These patients have less likelihood to
respond to outsider's views on their psychosis or their mania. An important feature of
the manic phase is that generally, the individuals themselves do not realize what is happening.
The symptoms are usually noticed by others, such as the family members, friends and even
Bipolar Disorder (BD)- The Extremities!
BD or manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual swings in mood,
energy and activity levels, and the potential to carry out day-to-day tasks. BD patients have
shown changes in different parts of the brain such as the amygdala, hippocampus, basal
ganglia, prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate. The amygdala part shows more activity
in patients with BD whereas, the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are seen to be less active.
Excess activity in the amygdala along with lower activity in cortical regions may be the reason
why the planning, reasoning and problem solving abilities are impaired in mania while the
emotions are elevated.
Rapid cycling in bipolar disorder
Having at least 4 or more episodes of mania in a period of 12-months is
described as rapid cycling. The mood episodes may be manic, hypomanic or
depressive types. These episodes are generally separated by partial or completely
normal periods, lasting for at least 2 months. Else these
episodes switch to extreme opposite polarities, such as mania
to major depressive episode.
Obsessive compulsive Disorder (OCD)
It is a common, long-lasting disorder where a person has uncontrollable, recurring
thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). He or she feels the urge to
repeat things over and again.
The Features of OCD
OCD is characterized by
Intrusive and troubling thoughts (obsessions)
Repetitive and ritualistic behaviors (compulsions)
Anxiety and distress
Obsessions can be of two subtypes, i.e. autogenous obsessions and
reactive obsession. In case of
autogenous obsessions there is no external stimuli and the obsessions tend to
come into consciousness suddenly. Whereas, in reactive obsessions there is a
presence of identifiable external cause. The stimuli is perceived as logical enough
to do something towards it, and this may include thoughts about contamination,
mistake. accident. loss, etc. Young children are often unable to report their obsessions,
while adolescents are able to report multiple obsessions and compulsion.
OCD-The Signs !
People with OCD may show signs of obsessions, compulsions, or both
Common signs of obsessions include:
' Fear of germs or contamination
' Unwanted thoughts involving sex, religion and harm
' Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
' Having things in a perfect order
Signs of compulsions include:
' Excessive cleaning and washing of hands or legs
' Arranging things in a particular manner
' Repeatedly checking on things, such as checking whether the
door is locked or the oven is off.
' Counting things again and again
Relationship and OCD!
Relationship OCD (ROCD) usually involves doubts and thoughts related to the suitability
of the relationship. This includes questioning the strength of one's feelings toward their
partner and the partner's feelings toward them. Another common ROCD involves disabling
thoughts regarding deficits in the partner such as appearance, intelligence, sociability, overall
personality and morality. This type of ROCD presentation has been given the term partner-focused
Nutrition and OCD
Orthorexia nervosa is a condition wherein affected individuals display an obsession
with eating healthy. To achieve this goal of proper nutrition, such individuals can have
a restrictive diet and a ritualized eating pattern, even going as far as avoiding foods
considered to be unhealthy. Even though they do so in pursuit of optimum health, ironically,
this obsession may lead them to nutritional deficiencies, medical complications and ultimately
a low quality of life.
Body weight and OCD
It is the nature of having extreme conciousness about the size, shape and weight of
the body. This condition is termed as anorexia nervosa and has the highest mortality
among any psychiatric disorder. About 80-90% of the patients with anorexia are females.
Full Body Checkup starts @ Rs.599
The Hallmarks of Anorexia Nervosa
People with anorexia have the physical capacity to
tolerate extreme levels of self imposed weight loss. Food restriction is just one aspect
of the practices done to lose weight. People with anorexia
tend to exert themselves by over exercising or engaging in strenuous activities in
order to burn calories. They show continuous interest in activities that involve physical
movement. Other practices include self induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives (substance
that loosen stools), diuretics (medicines to increase the amount of water expelled from the
body and use of "Slimming medicines." Patients may perform obssesive behaviour such as
repeated measurement of body weight, checking themselves in front of mirror and other such
activities to ensure that they are still thin.
Kleptomania- The urge to steal!
It is a condition related to OCD where a person experiences repetitive failure to resist
impulses to steal objects that are not required for personal use or for monetary value.
Kleptomaniac persons show an anxiety driven urge to perform an act of stealing objects,
that is pleasurable at the moment but, may cause significant distress later on. Kleptomaniacs have
characteristics such as deep feeling of guilt and lack of motives for theft like monetary gain,
personal use, stealing to impress someone or to support a drug habit.
What's There Beyond The Stigma?
Mental health, if at all questioned, is often misunderstood to be a huge issue.
The small things that tend to escape our mind, the forgetfulness, confusion in
reading some words or numbers could indicate something about our state of mind.
Yet we ignore them all because if accepted, it would mean we no more have a mind
that is healthy and sound. But whom are we bluffing and above that what are
we gaining from it?
It is about Naina, a young, agile and talented girl.
Throughout her schooldays she had
never liked reading, for that matter
studying. However, the one thing she would give up anything for is her dance
class. With this dislike towards studies she somehow dragged through the school
days and convinced her parents to ultimately
pursue a career in dance.
Some reluctance was shown by her parents but, what could be more important
than Naina's happiness.
Slowly she went ahead to learn dance professionally, but the problems still remained
when it came to writing the theory exams, as a graduation in dance also requires studying.
This time Naina was struggling to prove herself and that her decision to take up
dance was not impulsive. She had to score good marks for this, but she failed to do so.
Eventually she started to remain in a low mood, silent and depressed. When asked by
her parents about her studies she would easily lie and fabricate the grades.
As the time passed by, the condition started to appear prominently. Her teachers, friends
and family began noticing the difference. Initially her parents could not believe that their
only child whom they gave the best of everything needs to go to a psychiatrist. After
gathering enough of courage they finally took her for a consultation.
Sessions, examinations and tests were done in
succesion and a diagnosis was confirmed that ,
Naina has dyslexia. The difficulty faced in studies was
not her lack of concentration or inability. She actually has a
condition, serious enough to require medical attention. Though
it is manageable, ignorance has piled on another condition; depression
which too needs to be treated clinically.
Fortunately, a stitch in time can prevent further tear. Her parents were smart
enough to just think about their child's well being, ignoring any stigma, they
took the right steps. The outcome was 'a perfectly normal Naina', not that her
dyslexia was cured but, she now knew what was causing it all. That it was not
her setback or inability and this feeling in itself helped her fight the depression
to a large extent.
What is Naina's current status? She eventually graduated in dance and is passionately
dancing her life through all the obstacles. Also she has applied to many universities to
get enrolled into a masters course in her favorite dance form.
Alzheimer's and Dementia Un-noticed till Berserk
Mental Health in today's time has gained considerable amount of attention. Not that it is a
condition that has made its place in the new era, but definitely has captured prominence.
The same rules do not apply to all the mental disorders. Likewise a single strategy cannot
be adopted in tackling all the conditions and each demand different approaches of treatment.
Earlier, forgetfulness or memory loss was mostly seen only with aging, which then meant, literally
growing old. Now, the bodily and mental changes tag one to be so, way before they get to naturally
age. Unfortunately, the symptoms of conditions like Alzheimer's disease and Dementia are prominently
marked only when things are way out of the hands. So, being aware and quick enough to pick up the
warning signs is the key to break this lock of puzzled memory.
Alzheimer's is a disease that slowly causes deterioration of the brain, leading to loss of memory
and brain functions. Usually it begins with subtle signs like inability to remember things. But,
eventually the condition becomes severe and affects an individual's overall capability to do things,
thus making them dependent. It has been estimated that nearly 10% of all the elderly people have
memory loss. and of these, Alzheimer's disease is responsible for more than half of them."
Why does one have Alzheimer's?
The exact mechanism behind Alzheimer's disease is not yet well understood. It occurs because
of damage to the brain, specifically in the hippocampus part that plays a role in memory formation.
As the neurons of the brain are affected by
this process, different functions of the brain and the body are impaired. The levels of
neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that transfer signal between the neurons are also
found to be altered in this condition. Many hypotheses have been proposed to explain these
damages, but further research is still required. However, it is seen that in 25% of the cases it
runs in the family. Among the people having a family history, 95% cases start getting the
symptoms quite late in their lives, when they are around 60 to 65 years old. In the remaining 5%,
the symptoms might start to appear way before turning 60.
Apart from this, genetic conditions like Down's Syndrome (condition causing developmental
delays) can also be a cause. Individuals with this syndrome have been reported to show the
signs of Alzheimer's disease from as early as 40 years of age. Environmental factors like repeated
instances of head injury, infections with certain viruses, exposure to toxins and the conditions of
living may as well have an influence.
How does the disease progress?
Onset of the condition is mild and is likely to be missed, so counseling and consultations
can help. Individuals with family history need to be vigilant and be prompt in taking necessary
actions. The disease might start with confusion in doing things, facing difficulty in making
judgments, disturbed languages, becoming agitated or preferring to stay away from others.
An individual might also sometimes have psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.
That is imagining things, conversations or people and staying in an self made imaginary world.
In some cases the condition might show features of Parkinson's (a disease showing abnormal
brain activity) and seizures (a sudden episode of illness). Alzheimer's disease might have a course
of 8 to 10 years on an average; death in such cases usually occurs due to malnutrition, exhaustion
due to lack of nourishment and respiratory diseases. Unfortunately, it cannot be cured, but
progression can be slowed to some extent with appropriate therapies.
A mental disorder that may occur due to numerous factors that can cause damage to the
brain cells. This includes brain tumors, trauma to the head, stroke, Alzheimer's disease,
disorders of metabolic, deficiency of vitamin or nutrients, side effects
of certain drugs, severe alcohol or drug abuse. Age is another major factor triggering
dementia. It has been found that 25% to 45% of the individuals around the age of 85
years develop the condition.
Although certain forms of disorder can be reversed, like the
ones caused due to deficiency, metabolic disorder or substance abuse, for most other cases
it cannot be treated completely. The progressive type of the condition, as in cases where it is
manifested by Alzheimer's disease can be treated to extend temporary relief of the symptoms.
What are the warning signs and symptoms?
The indicative signs vary depending on the type or the cause of dementia. Usually, two or more
of the core mental functions are affected. Owing to this any of the following signs like loss of
memory, inability to speak or communicate, lack of focus, reasoning and judgment or the
vision can be seen. People with
dementia might face trouble in
remembering things even for a short
time. They might have to struggle to
manage themselves, to recall where
Yes, they are connected. Alzheimer's
they have placed their spectacles,
purse and other belongings, to
remember the route of travel in the
surrounding areas, to plan and cook
a meal, to rethink a conversation
made few hours ago, or to keep in
mind a scheduled meeting.
Neurons i.e, the nerve cells in the
brain, die with aging naturally to a
certain extent, affecting the memory of the elderly people. In
dementia patients this loss of
neurons is much greater as well as
faster. Thus the extent of memory
loss in such patients is far more.
Alzheimer's Disease and
Dementia - Is there a connection?
disease is the leading cause of
Dementia. In fact, more than half
the cases of dementia have occurred
due to Alzheimer's disease. Stroke
that leads to vascular dementia is
the second most common cause of
this condition. However, many a
times a combination of two or more
reasons are seen to be responsible
One major difference between the
two conditions is that, in Dementia
there are episodes of forgetfulness
but then, one quickly recall things
back. Whilst, in Alzheimer's disease
the confusion in doing or forgetting things interfere with performing the
routine activities of life.