Psychological Disorders Part 8


In Psychological Disorders Part 7, Depressive and Substance-Related disorders were discussed. They are both very serious disorders that need immediate help. Both can be dealt with by consulting a psychologist and taking the proper medication needed. This article will discuss Neurocognitive and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders.

Neurocognitive Disorders

These disorders are accompanied by deficits in cognitive functioning. These are different from the disorders of impaired cognition present at birth.

Delirium is a serious disorder concerning disturbance in mental abilities that results in confused thinking and reduced awareness of the surrounding environment. Delirium is usually very rapid; it starts within hours or a few days. It usually arises because of contributing factors such as a chronic illness, changes in metabolic balance, medication, infection, surgery, or intoxication. It is important to note that delirium and dementia look very similar but are different. Symptoms for reduced awareness of the environment are the inability to stay focused or continuously switching topics, getting easily distracted by useless things, getting stuck on one idea, and being withdrawn. Symptoms for poor thinking skills are disorientation, poor memory, difficulty in speaking or recalling words, trouble understanding speech, rambling, and difficulty in reading or writing. Some of the behavioural changes are hallucinations, calling out or moaning, lethargy, disturbed sleep habits, agitation, being withdrawn, and reversal of the night-day cycle. Some of the emotional disturbances experienced are depression, euphoria, apathy, anxiety, paranoia, anger, unpredictable moods, and personality changes.

Neurocognitive Disorders used to be known as Organic brain syndrome. It is a group of conditions that leads to impaired mental function. These disorders usually occur in older people but that does not mean they cannot affect young adults. It includes problems with memory, changes in behaviour, trouble performing daily activities, and difficulty understanding language. These symptoms may be caused because of a neurodegenerative condition like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Neurodegenerative diseases result in the brain and nerves deteriorating over time which then causes loss of neurological function. Neurocognitive disorders can be a result of brain trauma or substance abuse. Symptoms for this are memory loss, confusion, anxiety, headaches, inability to focus, short-term memory loss, trouble performing normal tasks, changes in vision, and difficulty in walking and balancing. Some of the neurodegenerative diseases that cause this disorder are Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, prion disease, dementia, and multiple sclerosis.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders

This is a category of psychiatric condition that includes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), body-dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, trichotillomania (hair-pulling disorder), excoriation disorder (skin picking), substance-induced OCD, and OCD because of a medical condition.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a pattern of unwanted fear (obsessions) which leads to doing repetitive behaviours (compulsions). This starts interfering in the daily activities. When a person tries to ignore the obsessions, the anxiety keeps increasing hence making the urge to do the compulsions stronger, and this is how the cycle of OCD is created. Obsessions usually have a theme such as fear of contamination, having difficulty tolerating uncertainty, needing things to be symmetrical, having horrific thoughts about losing control, and unwanted thoughts on religion or sexual subjects. Symptoms of obsession are fear of touching people because of contamination, doubts whether you have locked the door or turned off the stove, images of driving into a crowd of people, unpleasant sexual images, excessive stress when objects are not placed orderly, thoughts about acting inappropriately in public and avoiding situations that might trigger obsessions. Symptoms of compulsion are washing hands till the skin becomes raw, checking doors repeatedly, checking the stove repeatedly, counting in a pattern, silently repeating a word or phrase, and arranging things in a particular order.


Neurocognitive disorders remain chronic but they can be controlled and monitored by medication and therapy. There is no exact way to prevent OCD but it can be treated by consulting a psychologist and learning how to deal with the fears that lead to the compulsions.


Note: this is just Part 8 of the Psychological Disorders series.

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