A medical condition wherein a person may suffer from unusual forgetfulness which may cause memory loss is known as amnesia. It may result into:
- Unable to learn or remember new events
- Unable to recall memories of the past
- At times involves both
It may either come slowly or suddenly. It may either be temporary or permanent. However, often the reason behind memory loss is loss of concentration due to depression, which may not be called amnesia. Hence, a proper diagnosis is required in case of amnesia.
The common forms or types of amnesia are:
- Retrograde amnesia: Here, the patient will fail to recollect the memories that occurred before the onset of amnesia
- Anterograde amnesia: The patient suffering from this form of amnesia will be unable to remember memories that occurred after the onset of amnesia.
- Lacunar amnesia: In this type of amnesia, the patient is unable to remember or recollect a particular event.
- Emotional or hysterical amnesia: It is a temporary condition caused due to psychological trauma.
- Korsakoff amnesia: Memory loss due to chronic alcoholism
- Posthypnotic amnesia: It mainly causes after a hypnosis session, when a person is unable to remember the events happened during the session.
- Transient global amnesia: It is a spontaneous memory lost which can last for few minutes or even hours.
Signs and symptoms:
The various signs and symptoms of amnesia are:
- The person may suffer from neurological problems like uncoordinated movements seizures, tremors etc.
- Confusion about events and disorientation of time and place are common signs.
- False recollections, invented events or memories misplace in time too, are commonly seen among people who suffer from amnesia.
The causes of amnesia are:
- Damage to those areas of the brain that are vital for brain functioning or processing.
- Lack of sufficient amount of oxygen reaching to the brain
- Lack of proper nutrition
- Tumours in the brain, especially in those parts which control the memory
- Intake of alcohol for a long time, which may cause deficiency of vitamin B1 – thiamine
- Electro-convulsive therapy, which is used to treat mental illnesses too causes amnesia. Here, the electric current passed through the brain can damage the memories.
- Severe trauma, damage to the brain or head injury can cause partial amnesia or partial memory loss.
- Certain medications
- Depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder
- Epilepsy, when not treated on time
A comprehensive test is required to diagnose amnesia. First and foremost, your detailed medical history will be required by the doctor. Later, he may refer you to get physical and cognitive examination done. The tests may include checking reflexes, sensory functions, memory evaluation, MRI and CT scan.
Amnesia is a condition that cannot be fully cured. However, if the patient has forgotten a lot of things, he/she can start learning from the beginning, especially if he is in the occupational sector. He/she can use devices that can help remember events easily for instance: records in the diaries, note-pads, mobiles or laptops. There are hardly any medications that can cure amnesia, and enhance your memory.