Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

Korsakoff’s syndrome

What is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome?

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a condition similar to dementia in which the brain is damaged by excessive alcohol intake.

What causes Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome?

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome occurs when Wernicke’s encephalopathy is left untreated or not treated quickly enough.

Wernicke’s encephalopathy is caused by a lack of thiamine, also known as vitamin B1, in the brain which leads to intense inflammation.

This is almost always caused by drinking too much alcohol.

What are the symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome?

Symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome include:

  • Confusion.
  • Memory problems – A person with the condition may be less able to form new memories and past memories may also be lost or distorted.
  • Difficulty understanding new information or learning new skills.
  • Personality changes.

Are you affected by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome?

If you’re affected by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, The Brain Charity can support you.

We are the only charity in the UK to be here for every one of the more than 600 different neurological conditions in existence. Individually, many are rare, but combined, they affect 1 in 6 people.

We provide practical help on all aspects of living with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, emotional support such as counselling, phone befriending and group therapy and social activities to people with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and their family, friends and carers from all over the UK from our centre in Liverpool.

Looking to talk to someone?

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Phone us

Contact The Brain Charity now

Our friendly Information & Advice Officers are here to help. We endeavour to respond to all enquiries within 10 working days.

0151 298 2999

Looking to talk to someone?

  • Please tell us which neurological condition you are affected by and what you need support with.

Caring for someone with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

We support carers, friends and family too

Are you a carer for or relative of someone with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome? It’s just as important for you to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing too.

The Brain Charity provides free support for carers, friends and family of people with any form of neurological condition, including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, from anywhere in the UK.

We also run an additional carers advocacy service for all carers in Liverpool, regardless of which type of condition the person they care for has.

You don’t need to be a formal or registered carer

We can help you even if you don’t view yourself as a formal carer or claim Carer’s Allowance. Find out some of the ways we support carers below.

Other resources

The Brain Charity's library

The Brain Charity’s library has a range of resources on Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and on many other disability-related issues.

Support groups

Alcoholics Anonymous Great Britain

Supports the recovery and continued sobriety of those with alcohol problems through their programme.

Website: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

Phone: 0800 917 7650

Email: help@aamail.org

Support groups at The Brain Charity

Are you interested in setting up a Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome support group, or do you already run one? Email activities@thebraincharity.org.uk to let us know.

Alternatively, you can check out our list of related support groups here.

Other charities

Alcohol Change UK