Neuropsychological evidence for subjective memory complaints in the neurologically well individual

M D Lucas


Background. Subjective memory and concentration difficulties are frequently expressed in modern society and, if sufficiently worrying, may elicit a medical consultation for elucidation. When a clear explanation cannot be given, a neuro- psychological assessment may be a useful tool.

Method. The present naturalistic study recruited 20 patients who reported cognitive difficulties for which a medical expla- nation could not be found. Each subject underwent a clinical interview and neuropsychological assessment in order to iden- tify the nature and severity of the problem, and to identify a possible cause of these complaints.

Results. Several possible explanations were documented but mood disturbance was considered the most likely reason for the identified cognitive difficulties.

Limitations. This was a naturalistic study with a specific sample, and consequently generalisability may be reduced.

Conclusion. Even in episodes of mild depression cognitive dif- ficulties occur that may be presented to neurologists rather than psychiatrists. In such instances the patient is at risk of not receiv- ing the appropriate treatment for his or her mood disorder .

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Submitted: 11 August 2008
Published: 01 September 2003

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South African Journal of Psychiatry    |    ISSN: 1608-9685 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2078-6786 (ONLINE)