What are the different types of dementia?

Added: 06.24.2022
3 minutes read
Dementia, while commonly viewed as a disease, is not an illness itself. Rather, it is a set of symptoms, characterized by some combination of memory dysfunction, personality changes, and problems with reasoning ability. It is caused by damage to areas of the brain responsible for memory, learning, language, and decision making. This damage can occur through several processes, but usually cause common symptoms like memory impairment, language deficits, lack of judgment, and compromised behavioral/emotional responses.

Here are the top 4 types of dementia, and symptoms to look for in each:
  1. Alzheimer’s Dementia – This is the most common cause of dementia. The first symptom is a loss of memory surrounding recent events, with trouble recognizing familiar locations and trouble recalling recent conversations being common examples of memory loss that is noted in the early disease course. More distant memory loss occurs later in the disease process, in addition to difficulty with activities of daily living and personality changes.

  2. Vascular Dementia – This is the second most common cause of dementia. Also called multi-infarct or post-stroke dementia, this disease occurs following stroke due to blockage in brain blood vessels or bleeding in the brain. The disease progresses in a stepwise manner, where each stroke causes progressive worsening in dementia symptoms, which vary depending on the severity of stroke.

  3. Lewy Body Dementia – This disease causes dementia in the form of memory loss and can also cause movement difficulty like stiffness. However, the hallmark symptom of this disease is trouble sleeping, with possible visual hallucinations at night.

  4. Frontotemporal Dementia – Also called Pick’s Disease or Frontal Lobe Dementia, this is one of the less common causes of dementia. Personality and behavioral changes are the first symptoms in this disease, with progression to memory impairment later in the disease course.
In addition to the individual causes listed above, dementia could be triggered by a mixed picture where more than one cause is leading to the illness. For instance, both Alzheimer’s Dementia and Vascular Dementia could contribute to an overall decline in cognitive functioning. Furthermore, there are reversible causes that could also lead to cognitive decline, that include medication side effects, imbalance of thyroid hormones, vitamin deficiencies, and increased pressure in the brain.