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Dementia: Mental Health Problems. Can They Affect You or a Family Member?

Updated on January 27, 2018
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What exactly is Dementia?

Age brings all these changes with it, always feeling tired and overwhelmed, sickness and untrustworthy hands; it's all the beginning for this condition.

Dementia is actually a very common condition in our aging community. Normally, it starts taking place from 65 and on, but it all really depends on the interaction with our brains, our daily life activities and our bodies and well being in general. Even though it is very common, it is still a hard thing to live with, all with the different kinds of dementia one could suffer from. The constant memory loss, problems with language, reasoning, eyesight and basic ability to focus, it all forms part of what is essentially, dementia.

The different classes of dementia are:

  • Alzheimer's disease: irreversible brain disorder that attacks our comprehension factor and stops us from having total control of our bodies. It also destroys our memories at a very slow rate.
  • Vascular Dementia: dementia caused from a stroke.
  • DLB (Dementia with Lewy Bodies): small deposits of protein that are created in the brain were made in the cortex of the brain.
  • Parkinson's disease: it has some of the characteristics that DLB has, such as symptoms and what not, also has the same deposits of protein in the brain.
  • Mixed Dementia: basically a mix of the factors of other dementias.
  • Frontotemporal dementia (FTD): multiple disorders which are usually caused by cell degeneration in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
  • Huntington's disease: inherited disease that causes nerve cells to break apart in the brain.
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: dementia cause by not having vitamin B-1 for a long time.
  • Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus: dementia caused by a fluid buildup in the brain.
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease: rare case in which prions cause normal proteins in the brain to start convoluting into strange shapes.

The Dementia guide

Vascular Dementia

Is acquired the same way you might acquire any other vascular disease. If you smoke, have a high level of cholesterol or blood pressure you may develop this sort of dementia. Vascular dementia is a progressive degenerative disease, which occurs when a person with goes a series of micro-strokes. These invisible attackers cause a downhill decline in mental faculties such as:

  • Remembering things, words, appointments…
  • Controlling emotions
  • Experiencing psychiatric anomalies
  • Having a hard time performing simple day-to-day actions.

The reason for this decline involves the shortage in the blood supply to the brain. Like a normal stroke would impair movement to a specific part of the body so does vascular dementia on specific regions of the brain causing the above symptoms.

Like other forms of dementia, the degeneration of the brain tissue will eventually lead to a hypoxic state of the region of the brain, in this case the hippocampus (part of your brain in control of your heart beat and the control of your lungs), which will inevitably lead to death more often than not by cardiac arrest. In comparison to other types of dementia, vascular dementia can be kept under control if smoking habits, cholesterol and high blood pressure are reduced.

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Image courtesy of | Source

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which currently affects 44 million people worldwide racking up an amazing 5.3 million people in the United States alone. The average age for diagnosis of this degenerative disease is between 60 and 65 years of age. However, if you find yourself among the 15% of people that have a congenitally acquired form of this disease you may likely experience an early onset form of Alzheimer’s well before you’re in your 50’s.

This strand of dementia begins forming as a series of proteins break down and form clusters in your brain causing the blockage of the neurotransmitters and the electric impulses they carry around. These clusters begin forming around your frontal lobe and deteriorate your capacity of making judgments, recalling the names of people events and words. Alzheimer’s is divided into seven stages and currently has no cure or ways to slow it down.

The only possible way to slow it down is being vaccinated against the certain type of protein that forms clusters in your brain well before it begins forming colonies. The only thing left for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is to find a good caretaker and set in motion a plan to better the remaining amount of time they have alive and contacting family members and spending time with them.

Mechanisms and secrets of Alzheimer's disease

Parkinson’s Disease

If you have watched love and other drugs, they might’ve sold you a lovely but realistic version of what early onset Parkinson’s looks like and they also make it pretty clear it is not fun at all. Nothing with the word disease in it is particularly amusing to anybody.

This particular form of dementia begins through the breakdown of a special set of neurons available in your brain denominated: dopamine neurons. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in charge of activating the pleasure centers of your brain as well as aiding with movement by the hand of acetylcholine When the amount of dopamine in your brain is reduced certain symptoms begin appearing like:

  • Shaking of the hands
  • Choppy movements
  • Slowed down movements

The shaking can begin on the pinky finger and will be progressively followed by the rest of the hand making it impossible for the person ailed with this disease to do something as simple as brushing their teeth. The choppy movements will be brought about by certain stiffness in the extremities making it harder to perform fluid movements and sports. Once it has progressed enough Parkinson’s disease will make it so that the patient has issues with balance and getting around on their own.

Its symptoms are treatable but like most strands of dementia this is a non-curable disease.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at | Source

Huntington’s Disease

Out of the all the forms of dementia out there, Huntington’s disease is congenital and it is literally a flip of the coin type of disease. People acquire this strand of dementia from their parents and have the off chance of passing it down to their descendants to a 50%.

Huntington’s disease has a set of symptoms similar to the rest of dementia strands. This specific form of dementia affects patients as early as the age of 2. However, the regular diagnosis ranges from the age of 30 to the age of 50. The causes of this disease lie in the humane genome of the production of a repetitive strand of proteins that tend to clump together.

These clumps of protein have strands of glutamine that make it easier for it to adhere and collect more proteins. They take siege over the neuron’s nucleus and their toxic nature causes the death of the cell. This is the part where the degeneration kicks and brings about symptoms such as:

  • Twitches
  • Problems coordinating speech
  • Problems coordinating movement
  • Inability to perform certain tasks
  • Mood swings

HD is, as most forms of dementia, incurable but its symptoms are treatable with certain medications.

Now, even though these conditions all have most of the same symptoms, the treatment for each is different and you have to know what you or a loved one are really going through before considering medication, but your doctor will be in charge of this.

When it comes to prevention of any of these diseases, all we know that works at all times is a good diet and exercise. Keeping our bodies and brains healthy and active really helps fight any factor or symptom of dementia. So I encourage you to always make time, even when you do not have time.

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Image courtesy of cooldesign at | Source

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