Symptoms

Autoimmune encephalitis (AE) can produce a very wide range of neuro-psychiatric symptoms. A major challenge in diagnosis is that different symptoms may appear at different times and different levels of intensity, so that the disease may mimic many other disorders. Some patients initially present with either neurological or psychiatric symptoms, further complicating diagnosis.

Symptoms commonly associated with AE can include:

  • cognitive impairment
  • memory difficulties
  • seizures
  • involuntary movements
  • slowed or loss of ability to speak
  • behavioral changes such as agitation
  • loss of inhibition
  • hallucinations (visual or auditory) 
  • paranoid thoughts
  • severe anxiety
  • sleep disruption including severe insomnia
  • decreased level of consciousness – to the point of unresponsiveness, catatonia or coma
  • weakness or numbness of part of the body
  • loss of balance
  •  vision changes

Although just one of these symptoms does not imply autoimmune encephalitis, an otherwise unexplained mixture of the above neuro-psychiatric symptoms may be a clue that the underlying cause is autoimmune encephalitis.

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