Amnesia: Causes, Types, Symptoms & More

Amnesia Disorder

A person with amnesia cannot remember or recall things that are stored in the brain. Despite being an extremely popular theme for movies and books, it is very rare in the real world.

This disorder is completely different from being a bit forgetful. When one has amnesia, they lose a great deal of memory that should not have been forgotten.

There are many things that you can remember from your life, including important milestones, memorable events, important people and vital facts.

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What is amnesia?

Amnesia is a type of memory loss. Memory formation can be difficult for people with this disorder. Many people are unable to recall past events or facts. In most cases, people with this disorder retain their identity, and they also retain their motor skills.

Normal aging is associated with mild memory loss. There may be an amnestic disorder present when there is significant memory loss, or the incapacity to create new memories.

Symptoms of amnesia

Memory loss or the inability to recollect memories is the most common symptom of amnesia. You will be unable to recall facts, events or places if you have the disorder.

It could be anything from what you had for breakfast to who the current president is. Even though you lose your motor skills, such as walking, you will maintain your fluency in any language you speak.

Retrograde, anterograde, and transient global amnesia are among the many types of amnesia.

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Retrograde amnesia

Retrograde amnesia occurs when you forget previously made memories. Most often, the most recently formed memories will be affected by this type of amnesia. The memory of childhood is typically affected more slowly than memories from later in life. Progressive retrograde amnesia is a symptom of diseases such as dementia.

Anterograde amnesia

Amnesia is when you aren’t able to make new memories. There can be a temporary effect to this. This can happen when you’re intoxicated and blackout.

A permanent solution is also possible. The condition occurs when your hippocampus, an area of the brain, is damaged. The hippocampus plays an important role in memory formation.

Transient global amnesia

Amnesia transient global (TGA) is an ill-defined condition. You will experience confusing or agitating symptoms repeatedly over many hours if you develop them.

In the hours leading up to the attack, you might experience memory loss. The attack is unlikely to be remembered by you in the long run. Consequently, TGA may be caused by an episode of seizures or a temporary blockage of the vessels supplying blood to your brain. People in their middle ages and older tend to suffer from it more frequently.

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Infantile amnesia

Three to five years of a person’s life are largely forgotten. Amnesia in childhood is a common occurrence.

Causes of amnesia

Causes of amnesia


Memory locations in your brain are thought to be determined by their age. Memory loss is caused by widespread brain degeneration. A person may experience this when suffering from Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Dementia patients tend to retain older memories longer than recent ones.


Memory loss can also be caused by the depletion of oxygen in the brain. Anoxia is the medical term for this condition. Temporary memory loss can result from anoxia if it does not cause severe brain damage.

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Damage to the hippocampus

In your limbic system and brain, the hippocampus is responsible for memory. Memory formation, organization, and retrieval are all part of its functions. Several of its cells consume a lot of energy and are fragile. Anoxic conditions and toxins are the things that most easily disrupt them.

The hippocampal brain region interferes with the formation of new memories. You can develop complete anterograde amnesia if both halves of your hippocampus are damaged.

Head injuries

You can suffer brain damage from trauma, strokes, tumors and infections. There is a possibility of permanent memory problems as a result of memory damage. When you suffer a concussion, your memory is likely to be affected for hours, days or weeks before or after your injury.

Alcohol use

Blackouts can be caused by short-term alcohol use. Anterograde amnesia is a temporary condition. The Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can be caused by long-term alcoholism. Having this condition will make it difficult for you to create new memories without being aware of it.

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Trauma or stress

Dissociative amnesia can also be caused by trauma or stress. When you are too overwhelmed to handle thoughts, feelings or information, your mind rejects them.

It is possible to travel or wander unexpectedly when suffering from dissociative amnesia, known as dissociative fugue. Additionally, it may cause you to lose the memory of the circumstances surrounding your travels as well as other details in your life.

Electroconvulsive therapy

It is possible to develop retrograde amnesia for weeks or months before receiving electroconvulsive therapy for depression or another condition. Anterograde amnesia is also possible but usually resolves within two weeks of treatment.

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How is amnesia diagnosed?

Neurologists and doctors can diagnose amnesia. They may ask about memory loss and other symptoms you may be experiencing. If you cannot remember the answers to their questions, they may ask a family member or caregiver to help.

Cognitive tests can also be used to test your memory. Other diagnostic tests may also be ordered. To check for any signs of brain damage, they can use an MRI or CT scan. Blood tests are usually used to find nutritional deficiencies, infections, and other problems. A seizure test may also be performed.

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How is amnesia treated?

Your physician will strive to treat amnesia by addressing the underlying cause.

It is possible to recover from chemically induced amnesia, such as alcohol-induced amnesia. Memory problems should subside after the drug is removed from your system.

It is usually possible to rehabilitate mild amnesia without treatment overtime in cases of mild head trauma. In severe cases of traumatic brain injury, the disorder might not go away. It usually takes six to nine months for improvements to occur.

Alzheimer’s dementia is often associated with the disorder. Your doctor can prescribe you medications to improve memory and learning.

Occupational therapy may be recommended by your doctor if you have persistent memory loss. Therapy of this type can help you develop new memory skills and learn new information. Your therapist can assist you in learning memory aids and ways to organize information in a way that makes it easier to recall.

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Are there any medications that treat amnesia?

Currently, amnesia cannot be treated with drugs. However, the FDA has not approved any medications used to treat that are typically prescribed to Alzheimer’s patients.


There are many different types of amnesia, and even mild symptoms impact daily activities and quality of life. People who suffer from the syndrome may have problems at work, at school, or in social settings.

There is no guarantee that lost memories can be recovered. A supervised environment or extended-care facility may be necessary for people with severe memory problems.

Preventing amnesia

A healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of blackouts, head injury, dementia, stroke and other forms of memory loss:

  • Don’t drink or use drugs heavily.
  • Protect your head when you play sports where concussions are a possibility.
  • Maintain a healthy mental state throughout your life. Consider taking classes, traveling, reading and playing mentally challenging games.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat proteins to maintain a heart-healthy diet.
  • Stay hydrated.


Generally, amnesia resolves on its own after a short period of time. It is possible to live with amnesia and perform day-to-day activities with the assistance of others, but this can be a challenge. It may be possible to reduce your illness risk by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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