Anosognosia: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment


Anosognosia is an impaired awareness of one’s own deficits, which can be caused by neurological injury. This impairment in self-awareness may result in the denial of illness or disability, leading to reduced motivation for treatment and rehabilitation. The brain area that causes anosognosia is usually located in the right hemisphere (right frontal lobe) and left parietal lobe; however, it can also occur when there are lesions on both sides of the brain.

Anosognosia is a neurological condition that causes people to be unaware of their disability. If you have an injury or impairment in one arm, for example, and the other arm feels fine, then you might not even know about it. This can lead to further complications when trying to recover from the injury. For instance if one side of your body has lost feeling due to nerve damage (such as with stroke), but the other side still has sensation, then it will be difficult for doctors and therapists to assess how much recovery is possible because they won’t be able to tell which areas are numb since both sides feel normal.

Anosognosia is often seen in patients with right hemisphere lesions because the left side of the brain controls self-awareness. Although both sides are involved, it typically occurs on the side opposite to where there was a stroke or injury. This may occur due to how our brains process information and control behavior. As a result, many times anosognosia is not diagnosed and it simply appears as if patients are unresponsive.

The symptoms of anosognosia

This varies from patient to patient and depends on the extent of the brain damage. Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose anosognosia because patients may not be aware that they have a deficit or loss in function, which can sometimes make them seem confused when asked questions about their condition.

Behaviors include:

  • An impaired ability to recognize disease symptoms.
  • A lack of awareness about cognitive deficits.
  • An impaired ability to acknowledge mistakes or make appropriate corrections when they are pointed out.

These symptoms can be related to schizophrenia, dementia (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease), autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder and other conditions that affect cognition. Along with these impairments in cognitive functioning, there may also be impaired reasoning and problem-solving skills.

Anosognosia can interfere with a person’s ability to participate in work or school activities as well as social relationships, such as those within the family structure.

This condition is often mistaken for depression.

The Diagnosis of anosognosia

A psychologist may be recommended to you by your doctor if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness or brain injury. Your doctor may also recommend a psychiatric evaluation if you are unable to recognize symptoms of your deficits, lack awareness about the causes and consequences of your symptoms, show diminished motivation for treatment and rehabilitation as well as display impaired reasoning ability.

The “LEAP” approach is a popular evaluation technique, which is conducted as follows:

  • listen to the person
  • Express empathy and concern.
  • Ask permission to ask questions about their symptoms or condition.
  • Evaluate the patient’s ability:
  • referrals from other professionals, such as therapists, if further evaluation is required by a psychologist who specializes in cognitive disorders. For example, you can visit a psychologist if your doctor thinks that anosognosia is the cause of some disorder.

The most effective treatment for anosognosia varies from person to person and depends on their conditions or disorders as well as any cognitive deficits they have experienced throughout life.

Treatment of Anosognosia

The most common treatments for anosognosia are psychotherapy and social support. Medication is used to treat the symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as depression or schizophrenia if they exist in conjunction with anosognosia.

Psychotherapy involves a variety of treatment methods that help patients understand their condition from different perspectives so that they can recognize their symptoms.

anosognosia symptoms
anosognosia symptoms

Social support is essential for patients with anosognosia because it provides them with the encouragement and understanding that they need during recovery. It also helps family members or friends to better understand the condition so that they are more supportive of treatment efforts.

What are some common causes of anosognosia?

  • Brain damage caused by a stroke, brain tumor or traumatic brain injury.
  • Disorders that affect the neurological system, including dementia (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease), schizophrenia and epilepsy.
  • Psychiatric disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Frontal lobe dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias that affect cognition.

Anosognosia cannot be treated with medications or physical therapy because it is not related to any neurological deficits associated with those conditions. In the case of anosognosia caused by brain damage, the best treatments focus on psychotherapy and social support.

What brain damage causes anosognosia?

answer the question aboveAnosognosia is a condition where a person who has experienced some type of hemispatial neglect or denial appears to have no awareness of the deficit. The person chooses an alternative behavior in response to their symptoms which can result in further differences from a normal reaction.

People with damage to the right side of their brain typically present with left sided symptoms while people with damage on the left side have symptoms on the right, so there are more possible combinations affecting various areas. Damage can be either acquired, such as through accidents or strokes, or developmental – certain types may be genetic and affect fetuses during pregnancy due to inadequate development or lack of oxygen supply. One common inherited form is called “Klippel-Trenaunay-Weber Syndrome” and is a rare disorder which affects limbs, organs, senses and bones.

Anosognosia may also be caused by lesions in the white matter of brain or from an acute lack of oxygen to any part of it when there are reduced levels in blood flow such as during cardiac arrest. In this instance it’s known as “Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome” as it’s often related to chronic alcohol abuse.

Relation to other conditions

Common conditions associated with anosognosia include:

Schizophrenia: this is a psychotic disorder that affects how someone thinks, feels and acts. It causes them to have trouble understanding what’s real and distorting their view of other people or the world around them which can result in unusual behavior such as delusions, paranoia, hallucinations etc.

Dementia: this condition may be caused by physical changes in brain cells due to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s or other types. It causes memory problems which may lead to disorientation and difficulty speaking, walking etc.

Depression: this is a mental health disorder that involves changes in mood such as sadness or apathy among others where it results in feelings of extreme hopelessness and despair.

Bipolar Disorder: this is a mental health disorder that causes people to experience extreme changes in mood.

hemiplegia: this neurological disorder is a type of paralysis which affects one side of the body.

Anosognosia is a condition where the person does not have awareness of their deficit. The best treatments for this are psychotherapy and social support, though there are other causes that include dementia, schizophrenia or depression. If you’re experiencing anosognosia due to brain damage then it’s important to see your doctor who will give you recommendations on how to treat it. Though some people may experience these symptoms as part of another disorder such as bipolarism, they can still be treated with medication if prescribed by a medical professional.

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