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memory loss
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memory loss

My husband,53, started having some episodes of panic attack like symptoms along with partial memory problem 7 months ago. They went untreated since the doctors could not figure out what they were! He's had every neurological test there is. Nothing was found to be the problem. Until two months ago when he totally lost his memory! He could remember his family, but his short-term memory and long-term-short memory were affected. He was very confused for the first two weeks. Then he started feeling more rational and not so confused, but he has never gotten his memory back. His brain is normal, the size, the blood flow to the brain, his heart, abdomen, and .... all results were normal. He had neumerous blood tests and urine tests, MRIs, monitored EEGs, CTscans, Eco-cardiogram, Neuropsych test and etc, and all the results were normal. No signs of Psychological problems either. He is very frustrated and upset since he was always proud of his sharp memory... Finally, a neurologist put him on Carbamazepine pills that have helped his attacks tremendously, but have not helped his memory loss. Doctors believe that his condition has not been related to seizures, but it maked me wonder why the Carbamazepine (tegratol) pills have helped him. Doctors are puzzled and have no answers for us. Could he have a virus in his brain? I am very desperate to know if anyone knows about his condition!! And if he would ever get his memory back!!! If there is a Hospital or University that researches on brain conditions that we could visit and find out. Thanks.
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Dear June,
The blood tests they gave him should have included a B and D vitamin test, which the B vitamin deficiency can cause Korsakoff's syndrome, a type of amnesia.  Also, the blood tests should have included a check on the presence of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can also cause amnesia, and may not show up on a scan.

He may need to see a psychiatrist who knows how to deal with amnesia.  This is because he may have a repressed memory or dissociative amnesia because of a  stressful event that would have occurred back in October or November, since his symptoms began seven months ago, and maybe a situation similar to it reoccurred two months ago when his memory totally went out the window.  Sometimes just being in the same surroundings or being exposed to similar reminders of the traumatic event will be enough to send a person over the edge, which may have happened the five months after the original incident.

You may not know what that event might have been, and of course he won't remember it.  You see, while the brain might block that one traumatic memory, that event is stored in the same place where long-term memory is, and thus neither can be accessed without the assistance of a psychiatrist who specializes in amnesia and perhaps hypnosis.  I know you said he has no psychological problems, but dissociative amnesia comes from an event that has caused repressed memory, which his reaction to that scary situation IS psychological, that is, blocking a memory is a function of the psyche.  

The carbamazepine he takes, while it can be used for seizures, it also can help panic disorder since it is used to relax the muscles and reduce pain in the body.  That's how come his panic attacks have improved.  If the body relaxes, it prevents anxiety from going over the top.  It will not help amnesia, though.

I would suggest you get the specific blood tests I suggested, and if they come back normal, I would also suggest you find a psychiatrist who knows how to deal with amnesiacs.  Any large hospital in a university setting in your state or a nearby state should be able to handle him as a patient, and also they can refer him to additional specialists in their area as consults on his case as needed.  A psych doc has got to check into the idea that he witnessed or experienced something that has traumatized him enough to where he would repress the memory of it.

Hope this helps.  There are many types of amnesia, all caused by different things, and the tests are varied to determine which kind he has.  In my post here, I focused on the the information you provided to give you my take.  But could be if you do an online search for "amnesia," and read more about it, you might can get a fix on what kind he has better than I have.
GG
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