Neurocognitive disorders are acquired conditions that represent underlying brain pathology that results in a decline in faculties; they are not developmental conditions. They are caused by brain damage in areas that affect learning and memory, planning and decision making, the ability to correctly use and understand language, hand-eye coordination, and the ability to act within social norms, such as dressing appropriately for the weather or occasion, showing empathy, and performing routine tasks. To be diagnosed as a neurocognitive disorder, the symptoms must be associated with a medical condition, not another mental health problem, and there can be no evidence of delirium, a separate, temporary disorder with similar symptoms.
When a major or mild neurocognitive disorder is suspected, testing can be performed by a neuropsychologist, and the condition can be diagnosed by a neurologist or geriatric psychiatrist. Antidepressants and medications that treat memory loss and other symptoms are available. Ongoing psychotherapy and psychosocial support for patients and families are usually necessary for clear understanding and proper management of the disorder and to maintain a better quality of life for everyone involved.