What are the signs and symptoms?
There are a number of reasons why ARBD might not be identified straight away, although accurate and timely identification of the condition is needed to make sure that these individuals receive the appropriate treatment and support that they need. Identifying those with ARBD is a particular challenge and previous reports have suggested that some people with the condition may fall through the gaps within current service provisions.
This means that across all services, it is important that staff are trained to have an awareness of what ARBD is. Some of the reasons why someone may be misdiagnosed under-diagnosed include the lack of awareness and understanding of ARBD, the condition being misidentified as intoxication or some forms of dementia, the stigma with the perception that ARBD is self-inflicted, the failure to present or engage with services, coexisting mental and physical health issues alongside possible situational barriers such as poverty and housing.
Although a diagnosis of ARBD should only be made when there is enough evidence to support a diagnosis, it is better to recognize possible signs of the condition as a precaution as earlier identification and intervention for those with ARBD can significantly improve the treatment outcomes.
Some of the first signs that might be recognized are:
- The inability to plan and sequence tasks (for example planning to attend an appointment and all the steps involved in this process)
- Signs of irritability and a lack of motivation, and impairment in decision-making processes
- Some will also see changes in personality changes in personality and behaviour such as aggression and apathy
Confabulation refers to the process whereby individuals fill in gaps in their memory by producing fabricated or distorted “memories” although the individual does not realise that these memories are false and they are not intentionally being deceptive. Ataxia is a term used to describe a cluster of disorders that affect speech, balance and coordination, leading to difficulties with walking, swallowing, writing, eating and vision.
Later Signs and Symptoms
At a slightly later stage some of the key symptoms that may be recognized include problems with memory that specifically affect anterograde memories, which means the ability to create new memories, problems with holding their attention and concentration, impairments in reasoning and judgment, problems with processing information, planning and further decision making, and finally signs of confusion. At this stage, they may also display confabulations and ataxia.