Major Neurocognitive Disorder in Adults

ICD-10 Code: R41.81

Major neurocognitive disorder is part of a cluster of diagnoses called the neurocognitive disorders.  Neurocognitive disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that include:

  • Mild neurocognitive disorder
  • Major neurocognitive disorder

The key distinction between major and mild neurocognitive disorder is that individuals with major neurocognitive disorder experience a substantial decline in function that includes a loss of independence as a result of profound cognitive impairment, whereas subjects with mild neurocognitive disorder experience only a modest cognitive decline and, as a result, function relatively independently.

Neurocognitive disorders involve impairments in cognitive abilities such as memory, problem solving and perception. Cognitive deficits are acquired rather than developmental. Although cognitive impairments are present in many if not all mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorders), only disorders whose core features are cognitive are included in neurocognitive disorders. Neurocognitive disorders represent impairment in cognition that has not been present since birth or the early developmental period. Thus, individual with this disorder experience a decline from a previously attained level of functioning.

Neurocognitive disorders most commonly occur in older adults, but they can affect younger people as well. Reduced mental capacity may include problems with complex attention, executive functioning, learning and memory, expressive and receptive language, perceptual-motor abilities, changes in behavior, and trouble performing everyday tasks. These symptoms may be caused by a neurodegenerative condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and Lewy body disease. They can also be caused by illnesses such as Parkinson's or Huntington's disease, or traumatic brain injury or stroke.  Neurocognitive disorders can also develop as a result of substance abuse or HIV infection.

What is major neurocognitive disorder?

Major neurocognitive disorder is an acquired disorder that affects 1-2% of adults by age 65 and 30% of adults by age 85.

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Understanding Major Cognitive Disorder

The development and course of major neurocognitive disorder greatly varies due to the number of causal subtypes. The symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury or stroke subtypes will improve after initial inflammation or swelling reduce

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How is major neurocognitive disorder treated?

Major neurocognitive disorder is individualized based on the etiological or pathological entity underlying the cognitive decline. 

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