Brain disorder is a comprehensive term that includes all conditions and disabilities that affect the brain. The brain is the fulcrum around which the bodily functions revolve. It is the body’s control centre that includes the spinal cord and a large network of nerves and neurons. Understandably, when the brain gets damaged, the body’s functions go for a toss too. Let’s dig deeper into the details about brain disorders.
Types of Brain Disorders
Brain disease is caused due to different reasons. The main reasons include illness, genetics, or a traumatic injury. Brain disorders are categorised under different heads depending upon the cause of brain disease. The most common brain disorders are as follows:
1. Brain Diseases Caused by Illness
Illness, especially infections, can trigger brain disorders. Depending upon the severity of the condition, the cause of infection and how fast the treatment was initiated, brain diseases caused by illness are completely reversible.
The common brain diseases caused by infections are:
- Meningitis – It is the inflammation of the protective lining of the brain and spinal cord. It is typically caused due to a bacterial or viral infection. The main symptoms include neck stiffness and swelling, headache, fever, vomiting, muscle pain, and confusion. Depending upon the cause and severity, the condition can reverse or turn life-threatening.
- Encephalitis – It is the inflammation of the brain tissue caused due to viral or bacterial infection or caused by an immune system disorder. The most common symptoms of encephalitis include confusion, speaking difficulty, loss of movement in some body parts, fits, and/or personality changes. Mild cases of encephalitis recover automatically, whereas severe cases can turn life-threatening.
- Brain Abscess – It refers to the pus accumulation in the brain which leads to atypical swelling. It is caused due to bacterial or fungal infection. The main symptoms include fever, headache, and nervous system problems like confusion, walking and speech difficulty, and/or one-sided weakness. A treatment plan for brain abscess includes antibiotics and surgical drainage of the pus. If left untreated, it can ultimately lead to death.
2. Brain Diseases Caused by Trauma/Injury
A traumatic brain injury is a result of a violent blow or jolt to the head. This may result in bruising, tearing of tissue or internal bleeding. Trauma also affects brain cell functioning and has a wide range of physical and psychological effects. The most common brain disorders caused by trauma include:
- Concussion – It is a brain injury that leads to a temporary disturbance in brain function. Typical symptoms include disorientation, unconsciousness, headache and memory problems. Physical and mental rest along with pain relief medications aid recovery.
- Hematomas – It is the accumulation of blood outside the blood vessel. This is caused due to an injury to the blood vessel. Symptoms include headache, vomiting and difficulty in swallowing. Mild cases of hematomas require no treatment or cure over time. However, severe cases require surgical suction of accumulated fluid.
- Blood Clot – A blood clot can form in blood vessels and travel to the brain causing brain stroke. The symptoms of stroke include weakness, one-sided numbness, speaking and walking difficulty, and brain fog. Medicines that dissolve blood clots and restore blood supply are the preferred line of treatment.
3. Brain Diseases Caused Due to Genetics
A genetic brain disease is caused by a mutation in a gene. It affects the development and function of the brain. Main genetic brain disorders include:
- Brain Tumour – While brain tumours are not hereditary, they are caused due to unwanted changes in the DNA. As the brain cells begin to grow and divide rapidly, it leads to an abnormal build-up of cells in the brain. The condition is marked by headaches, seizures, dizziness, weakness, and behaviour changes. The treatment depends upon the type, size and location of the tumour.
- Leukodystrophies – It is a rare genetic disorder that affects the central nervous system. The condition leads to erosion of the white matter in the central nervous system. Reduced white matter slows down or blocks the signals between nerve cells. Symptoms lead to a gradual loss of balance, muscle tone, and speech and hearing problems. Treatment includes relieving symptoms and providing support.
- Phenylketonuria – it is an amino acid metabolism disorder wherein the body cannot process the amino acids phenylalanine. High levels of phenylalanine in the body can lead to severe intellectual disability. The treatment plan includes switching to a low-protein diet.
- Wilson Disease – it is a metabolic disorder that prevents the body from getting rid of extra copper. High amounts of copper in the body are poisonous and cause damage to brain cells. Treatment includes drugs that remove copper from the body and follow a low-copper diet.
4. Autoimmune Brain Conditions
Some brain conditions are triggered by weak immune health. These are termed autoimmune brain conditions.
- Vasculitis – It is a condition that involves the thickening of blood vessels. When the blood vessels of the brain get inflamed, it leads to a restricted blood supply. Common symptoms include confusion, seizures, headaches, and loss of consciousness. The common treatment plan includes the use of anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Multiple Sclerosis – Multiple sclerosis is caused when the immune system begins to attack the white matter of the brain. This damages cells and nerves. Common symptoms include muscle spasms, fatigue, and unexplained weakness. Multiple sclerosis is a progressive disorder managed through drugs.
5. Neurodegenerative Conditions
Apart from the ones mentioned above, there is a range of neurodegenerative conditions caused by a gradual decline in brain cells. Causes of degenerative diseases include age-related neuronal damage, environmental and genetic factors, and abnormal protein levels. Neurodegenerative diseases are incurable and progressive. The most common ones are:
- Parkinson’s disease – As the cells in the brain begin to deplete it causes the dopamine levels to drop. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the body that is linked to body movement and coordination. Parkinson’s disease is marked by tremors and stiffness of the limbs. While there is no cure, an artificial infusion of dopamine through medication helps relieve symptoms.
- Huntington’s disease: It is a genetic condition that causes the brain cells to break down. It leads to physical and mental disabilities. Common symptoms include trouble walking, uncontrolled movements, reduced mental abilities, and personality and speech changes. Treatment includes antipsychotic medication.
- Dementia – It is a brain disorder marked by a decline in cognitive function. Typical symptoms of the condition include impaired memory, and reduced thinking and social abilities. Dementia is one of the mental health conditions that can be caused by other brain disorders. Medication and therapies can help manage symptoms.
- Alzheimer’s disease – Alzheimer’s disease is caused when the brain cells and the nerves in certain brain areas begin to degenerate or there is a build-up of abnormal brain tissue. The condition leads to progressive memory loss, a decline in mental functions and changes in behaviour and personality.
6. Mental Health Disorders
As the brain is the control centre of the body, a change in surroundings, environmental conditions and situations affect brain functioning. There is a range of mental health conditions that alter behaviour patterns. These conditions include:
- Depression – It is a mood disorder marked by a feeling of loneliness, sadness and reduced self-esteem. If left untreated, it can turn into a serious mental condition.
- Anxiety – Anxiety is a typical feeling of feeling restless. While a mild and short-lived feeling of anxiety is good for the body as it triggers the body’s defence mechanism, prolonged anxiety can lead to panic attacks, palpitations and increased stress levels. If left untreated it can lead to several types of anxiety disorders.
- Bipolar Disorder – It is a brain disease marked by extreme shifts in mood. It has periodic phases of mania and depression. The condition is generally managed with psychotic drugs.
- Schizophrenia – Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric disorder. People affected by the condition usually experience delusions or hallucinations. It is often termed a split personality or dissociative identity disorder.
The brain is the main control centre of the body. Any change in the brain chemistry can lead to an onset of brain disorder. An injury or trauma, genetics or infection can cause brain disease. Mental health conditions can also be autoimmune or degenerative. Each mental health condition has different risks, diagnoses and treatment plans. The prognosis of the condition will depend upon the type and severity of the condition. While some mental health disorders can be easily managed by medications and revival therapies, autoimmune and degenerative conditions are progressive and incurable. The treatment plan thus centres on managing symptoms and retaining independence as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions About Brain Disorders
Q. Which brain disorder is considered to be the most common?
Headache is one of the most common brain disorders. From normal headaches to migraines, cluster headaches and tension headaches, there are different variations of headaches.
Q. What are considered to be the top 5 neurological disorders?
Neurological disorders are the ones that affect the central nervous system. This includes the brain and the spinal cord. The top 5 neurological disorders include Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, Parkinson’s disease, Acute Spinal Cord Injury, and brain tumours.
Q. What are known to be the top brain diseases?
The six types of brain diseases include brain tumours, brain trauma, cerebrovascular diseases, autoimmune brain disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, and mental disorders.
Q. Which brain diseases are considered to be serious?
Some of the serious brain diseases include neurodegenerative conditions, brain tumours, and untreated mental disorders.