I forget
March 5, 2010 10:15 AM   Subscribe

Has anyone had stress related amnesia? How did you cope? Did it go away on its own?

I have been having memory problems, and not the "where did I put my keys" kind of memory problems. I mean, real, serious problems. For instance, my boss recently asked me why I hadn't taken leave for a certain day. I told him I was pretty sure I came to work that day. As it turns out, I didn't. He said I came by the office, but only to fax a few things. I have no memory of this whatsoever. I also recently read an article I wrote which had some quotes in it. I have no memory of speaking to the people quoted, although I know I must have done so. I didn't tell my boss or call the people to verify I had talked to them because I didn't want to sound nuts.

More and more, the answer to questions I get asked, is "I don't remember that." It's beginning to worry me. These blackouts don't have anything to do with intoxication of any sort, and they seem to be fairly random.

I recently had a fire (the subject of this question) that destroyed all my stuff, and caused a lot of disruption. Most of my immediate symptoms of stress have passed, but memory problems persist.

Has anyone else had this sort of experience? Has it resolved itself over time?

(I've already got an appt. with a shrink this month, so I will be consulting someone professionally.)
posted by dortmunder to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How is your sleep right now?
posted by availablelight at 10:27 AM on March 5, 2010

Response by poster: Sleep's fine.
posted by dortmunder at 10:38 AM on March 5, 2010

How do you know it's stress causing this and not something else?

Personally if I were you, I would first be going to a medical doctor as opposed to a shrink.

I don't know anything in particular about this topic, but the symptoms you describe are pretty alarming.
posted by Diplodocus at 10:45 AM on March 5, 2010

Response by poster: How do you know it's stress causing this and not something else?

I don't for sure. Call it correlation. First comes big, life altering event, then comes memory problems. It's an educated guess.
posted by dortmunder at 10:50 AM on March 5, 2010

Response by poster: Also, a shrink is a medical doctor. He can recommend I see another type of medical doctor if he thinks it's a good idea.
posted by dortmunder at 10:53 AM on March 5, 2010

I've already got an appt. with a shrink this month

That's a good start, but you should also see your regular medical doctor to rule out any physiological issues that might be causing, and/or contributing to, the problem.
posted by amyms at 10:54 AM on March 5, 2010

Also, a shrink is a medical doctor. He can recommend I see another type of medical doctor if he thinks it's a good idea.

Yes you're right, but you know what I meant. I was just saying that my first choice would be a regular MD, but that's just me, I don't know how you're feeling. Any visit to a medical professional of some kind will hopefully get you pointed in the right direction. Best of luck to you.
posted by Diplodocus at 11:00 AM on March 5, 2010

Response by poster: So the shrink is aware you've got what could potentially be neurological issues and yet he's not telling you to go see a doctor now and not even bumping up the appointment to sooner?

No. It's a routine appointment. I'm going to bring it up then. I'm worried. Not panicked.
posted by dortmunder at 11:13 AM on March 5, 2010

While it's possible what you're dealing with is a result of stress - the brain is a strange place - it may be a coincidence.
I'd make an appt with a neurologist. Soon. If what you have is physiological and not psychological - the symptoms you're experiencing could be warning signs of something bigger (like a massive stroke). If it was my brain, I'd actually take it to the ER. I had what I thought was "a trouble with words" for an afternoon. Turns out it was a TIA. I learned not to mess around when your brain is trying to tell you something.
posted by Wolfie at 12:51 PM on March 5, 2010

Dortmunder, I'm no doctor, but I've had a friend with a brain tumor and I had an extensive conversation once with a neurologist when I was suffereing frequent dizzy spells.

What you're experiencing is not "memory problems." Temporarily forgetting words or names or assigned tasks is a memory problem. Having no memory whatsoever of whole recent stretches of time is a blackout.

I don't think you're worried enough.

I really think you should talk to a doctor sooner than "this month." Like maybe "this afternoon."
posted by BigLankyBastard at 12:52 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm missing some memory from that accident I had (mentioned in your previous AskMe). I can remember right up to a certain point and then from a short while later but nothing in between although I am fairly certain I was not unconscious at the time. From what I've been told that's not uncommon and it has never re-occurred. But you're describing a situation where the amnesia is separate from the traumatic incident, that strikes me as worth talking to a doctor about.
posted by tommasz at 12:54 PM on March 5, 2010

See an MD first--you want to rule out problems with your thyroid, hormones, etc. If this doesn't fix the problem, you may be referred to a neurologist for a brain scan just to make sure nothing is physically wrong with your brain. Next stop after that would be a psychiatrist to rule out amnesia, disassociative disorder, etc. You may want to start writing yourself notes about everything until the siutation gets resolved.
posted by MsKim at 3:01 PM on March 5, 2010

I lost whole chunks of memory when I was depressed and stressed. (Example: I taped movies off TV, editing the commercials as I did, but later, could not recall having seen/taped/edited this ever before.) I don't think it is that unusual.
posted by Riverine at 11:12 AM on March 6, 2010

Response by poster: Shrink said the amnesia was a normal reaction to stress. No recurring episodes. Non issue now.
posted by dortmunder at 3:23 PM on April 4, 2010

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