How Does NMO Affect Cognition?

Last updated: December 2022

NMOSD (neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder), or NMO, is a neurological disorder. It affects the central nervous system. NMO can cause severe cognitive issues (problems with your thinking). These include memory loss and mood disorders.1,2

Cognition problems are common in people with NMO. And these problems can seriously impact your ability to live on your own and perform daily activities. NMO affects cognition in many ways. There are a variety of symptoms and problems that people with NMO may face.1
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with NMO, it is essential to be aware of the potential cognitive effects.

Memory loss

One common symptom is memory loss. People with NMO often experience difficulty remembering or retaining new information or facts.1

It may be difficult to remember people's names, where you parked your car, or what you had for breakfast. For someone with NMO, these simple tasks can seem overwhelming and frustrating. And the memory loss the person with NMO experiences can also frustrate their family and friends.1

Visual memory

One of the most affected cognitive functions in NMO is visual memory. This means people with NMO often have difficulty remembering things they have seen. For example, they may have trouble recognizing faces. They may also have difficulty reading or understanding written information.2

Mood disorders

People with NMO may experience depression or other mood disorders. These may be caused by physical changes in the brain. Or, the stress and pain of dealing with a chronic illness may be the link.1-3

Depression can impact memory and make it difficult to focus on tasks or recall important information. Also, people with depression may lose interest in activities they once loved. They may feel sad most of the time.

Executive function

Another cognitive issue with NMO is executive function. Executive function is your ability to plan and organize. People may experience problems with attention and concentration, as well as memory impairments. This can make daily tasks such as grocery shopping or paying bills difficult.3

Treatment

The best way to manage the symptoms of NMO is through drugs, including those that dampen the immune response (immunosuppressants). They can help reduce the severity of symptoms. But there is currently no cure. And you may still have cognitive issues even after treatment.1

Talk with your doctor

Living with NMO can be challenging. Having a good relationship with your doctor is vital. Here are a few things to keep in mind when talking to your doctor about NMO:

  1. Keep your doctor updated on your symptoms How do your symptoms affect your day-to-day life? Keeping a journal of your symptoms can help you provide detailed information to your doctor.
  2. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Your doctor should be able to answer any questions you have about NMO.
  3. Ensure you understand the treatment options available. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating NMO. So it is vital to find a plan that is best for you.

By following these tips, you can ensure a productive and informative conversation with your doctor about NMO.

Memory loss, mood disorders, and executive function problems can make everyday life difficult. If you are struggling with the cognitive effects of NMO, reach out to your doctor or mental health professional for help.

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