Cognitive dysfunction affects a person’s ability to process information, remember events and people, and reason. People suffering from cognitive dysfunction have difficulty remembering the right words for what they want to say, solve even simple math problems and focus on something.
Self-awareness in the early stages of cognitive decline
Can people be aware of their own cognitive dysfunction? In many cases, they can be and are aware of cognitive dysfunction episodes. It can occur in such conditions as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, schizophrenia, depression and brain cancer. In some conditions, self-awareness of the dysfunction is mostly in the early stages of the condition.
Alzheimer’s is a condition in which self-awareness of cognitive dysfunction usually occurs in the early stages but can be present periodically in later stages. Whether self-awareness is present depends on the individual. No two cases will present self-awareness in the same way at the same stages.
In multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression, suffers are often aware of when they are experiencing an episode of cognitive dysfunction, which they frequently refer to as “brain fog”. During these episodes, the affected person knows the brain fog is happening. They are unable to think or do as they normally would. Simple tasks become nearly impossible to achieve as they are unable to process information.
People with schizophrenia who are aware of their episodes of cognitive awareness react differently, depending on how their condition affects them and the particular treatment they are following. With brain cancer sufferers, the self-awareness of the dysfunction can occur at different stages of the disease, even when the dysfunction is nearly constant. It isn’t unusual for brain cancer patients to have difficulty choosing the right words for what they want to communicate.
Self-awareness increases frustration
In all conditions in which it occurs, self-awareness of cognitive dysfunction leaves the suffers frustrated as they feel they can do nothing about it. In some cases, the dysfunction can be decreased with treatment. In those cases in which it cannot be decreased, the focus is on helping the person deal with the episodes of dysfunction and alleviating the frustration that ensues. This is particularly the case with brain cancer patients.
Treating people who are self-aware of their cognitive dysfunction doesn’t stop with just that person. Family also needs to understand what is happening and how to deal with it in a way that helps their family member cope with the episodes. The frustration that comes with the self-knowledge of the condition can be quite intense and family can help calm this frustration when they are armed with the right methods of bringing calm to the person.