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Changes in Thinking (Cognition)

Anosognosia (Unaware of Their Own Symptoms)

"I'm fine, I don't have any symptoms..."

Lacking awareness takes different forms in HD. Some people are using denial to cope with hard news such as losing a loved one or having an HD diagnosis. This type of denial can go away. People with HD may also have a condition called anosognosia where they lack the ability to recognize their own symptoms or their problem behavior. This condition stays with a person with HD. 

Being unaware of symptoms may make the person with HD feel better, but it can cause issues for their household and their medical team. If someone is unaware of their disability, it may be harder to accept not being able to do the things they used to do like driving and working. They may resent the person who tries to stop them from doing something.  

It’s also harder for a medical team to help with problems if their patient doesn’t know they have them. They may not report symptoms or resist treatments if they don’t think they’re necessary. Healthcare professionals and care providers need to work together to discuss all symptoms and treatments for the person with HD. 

Since there is no treatment for anosognosia, the best approach for family and friends is to accept the fact that their loved isn’t aware of their symptoms. Trying to prove to someone they have a symptom has proven to not work and usually makes the situation worse.     

This video explaining anosognosia will help. If nothing else, you’ll probably learn to pronounce the word.