Amnestic Disorder Diagnosis

(Also Known As: Memory Loss Diagnosis, Senility Diagnosis, Amnesia Diagnosis, Alcohol Induced Persisting Amnestic Disorder Diagnosis)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

How is Amnestic Disorder Diagnosed?

The person with amnestic disorder may report their condition voluntarily upon noticing the changes in their memory. But in most cases the people close to the patient such as a family member, a friend, and relatives are the ones who first suspect something is wrong with the patient. Confabulating becomes obvious with the patient’s symptoms, suggesting changes in the memory of the patient. An amnesia following a head injury requires immediate diagnosis and evaluation.

The evaluation consists of looking for possible causes of the patient’s amnesia such as whether the patient sustained head trauma, is on substance abuse and to carry out an evaluation for the presence of other general medical conditions that can trigger amnesia. Other diagnostic tools employed are imaging techniques such as PET, MRI and CT scan in order to identify the specific areas of the brain injury. If the patient is exposed to alcohol, drugs, or toxins the physician may require a laboratory test. A mini-mental state examination or MMSE may be carried out to evaluate the patient’s cognitive status and to determine the presence of dementia.

Verbal and visual memory tests are also helpful diagnostic tool for amnestic disorder. A digit span test is the diagnostic tool used for ruling out delirium consisting of letting the patient repeat a string of numbers.3 Other tests include cerebrospinal fluid testing and EEG testing which is highly dependent on the category of the amnestic disorder sustained by a person.


Prognosis reflects the chance of the patient’s survival rate and recovery according to the patient’s condition. Amnestic disorder accompanied with alcoholism may be difficult to improve but some with minor amnesia may possibly get better. Other substance induced amnestic disorders can have an unpredicted rate of chances for improvement while the presence of transient global amnesia typically has a higher improvement rate. 4 The total recovery may take place after some hours or days with people with transient global amnesia.

Prognosis varies depending on the condition that may cause amnestic disorder. The presence of Alzheimer’s disease will further aggravate the amnestic condition and will get worse over time. Other conditions like brain tumor accompanying the memory disorder can possibly have improved recovery once surgery has been completed. The amnesia will get better once the brain swelling decreases in brain injury. 5

Could You Have Amnestic Disorder?

Amnestic Disorder Topics

Related Conditions

Dissociative Amnesia – functional amnesia, retrograde amnesia, anterograde amnesia, inability to recall of personal identity, dissociative fugue
Dissociative Identity Disorder – multiple personality disorder, memory loss, multiple distinct characters