Functional Memory and Concentration symptoms frequently co-exist alongside functional and dissociative symptoms.
This is especially the case when there is sleep disturbance, fatigue, anxiety or depression. However, it is important to state that you can have these memory and concentration symptoms without anxiety or depression.
Common memory complaints are as follows. Many may be everyday experiences that are experienced more often than usual.
Like all functional symptoms, deciding whether these symptoms are part of a neurological disease or not must be done by someone who knows what they’re doing.
But often, these kinds of symptoms do not indicate a memory problem at all. They can mostly be explained as a consequence of poor concentration or absentmindedness. If you are not concentrating to begin with, perhaps because you are tired, or distracted, then you are not going to remember things.
So whilst you used to be able to walk upstairs and ‘keep in mind’ the reason for it, you now don’t because your pain or fatigue or leg weakness is getting in the way of your concentration.
People who notice these kinds of symptoms have often had above average ability to remember things in the first place. People who have always been a bit absentminded tend to notice them less.
Sometimes these symptoms become a focus for worry, especially if there is a family history of dementia or the person is familiar with dementia.
Longer Periods of Amnesia / Dissociative Amnesia
Sometimes patients with functional neurological symptoms report quite dramatic periods of amnesia, for example, for a whole afternoon or a whole car journey. This is especially the case in people with dissociative seizures who often have amnesia for symptoms just preceding the attack.
When a whole block of time like this is lost, then the explanation is more likely to be dissociative amnesia. Click on dissociative symptoms to find out more about the general meaning of dissociation.
In dissociative amnesia, the person is not able to remember anything because either
• during the period in question they were either in a trance like state, or
• They are having difficulty accessing normal memories because of a change in function of the brain, which is part of a functional or dissociative illness
“I went upstairs /to the next room and couldn’t remember why I was there’
‘I keep losing my wallet / keys’
‘I lost track of the conversation’
‘I couldn’t recall the entire car journey home’
‘I pick up a book and I can’t remember the bit I read before’
‘I forget the name of the place I went on holiday and what we did every day’
‘I completely forgot to go to a meeting / send someone a birthday card’