Transient Global Amnesia is a temporary condition in which an individual, all of a sudden, has an episode of memory loss. During this episode, sufferers cannot recall recent events: they will be unable, for example, to pinpoint their present location or state how they got there. Other elements of the individual’s cognitive functioning are not impaired: deeply coded information in long-term memory remains in tact but it is recent information that cannot be recalled. After a period of time, individuals are likely to become anxious about their lack of short-term memory, but it is important to note that this condition is only temporary and that, after a short period of time, their memory will recover. In most cases, this condition is harmless; and, unlike the fugue state in which you forget your friends and lose your sense of identity, you still remember your friends and who you are. In order to make a diagnosis of Transient Global Amnesia, the memory loss must not be due to having had a stroke or be the result of another neurological condition such as epilepsy. In addition, alcohol-induced memory loss is an entirely separate problem. Most individuals will forget events that have happened during the day or over the last week; however, in more severe cases, patients may forget situations which had occurred a year ago. This problem is normally resolved within 24 hours.
One of the most interesting characteristics of Transient Global Amnesia is ‘perseveration’. This refers to the constant repetition of phrases during the attack of transient global amnesia. For example, the individual will repeat gestures, questions and comments over and over again using the same tone of voice on each occasion. Apart from this constant repetition, sufferers’ social skills and cognitive abilities will be completely normal. Nevertheless, many people who suffer from this problem are aware that something is wrong and this can cause a great deal of distress. However, the prognosis of this condition is very good. In most cases, the memory returns to normal; it does not affect mortality or morbidity; and it does not indicate that patients are at risk of developing a stroke or ischemic disease (Hodges & Warlow, 1990; Sucholeik, 2008).
If you have suffered from this condition in the past, and would like to speak to a counsellor, please telephone 0207 467 8564. The psychotherapist will help you to come to terms with this short-lived problem and remind you that the condition was something that happened in the past. He will also help you to move on and to realise that this temporary problem will not have any effect on your life.
David Kraft PhD