Overview

Dementia is a general term for the loss of mental functions such as memory, reasoning, and thinking, that is so severe it interferes with a person’s ability to function. Dementia is not a specific disease, rather a group of symptoms that are caused by a number of diseases or conditions. Patients with dementia report having symptoms of changes in behavior, mood, and personality. Some patients are more inclined to become agitated or see things that are not there. 

Causes and risk factors

Dementia is caused by several factors, including:

  • Diseases that cause degeneration or loss of nerve cells in the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Stroke and other diseases that affect the blood vessels
  • Nutritional deficiencies, like vitamin B12
  • Infections of the brain and spinal cord
  • Head injury
  • depression
  • Toxic reactions to excessive use of alcohol or drugs

In some cases, patients can be treated and cured because the cause is treatable. However, the majority of patients have irreversible causes of dementia.

Related conditions