Amnesia – What it is, Causes, Symptoms and Treatments that we should not ignore. Also, Amnesia refers to the loss of memories , such as facts, information, and experiences. Although having no sense of who you are is a common plot device in movies and television, real-life Amnesia usually does not cause a loss of self-identity. Instead, people with Amnesia – also called amnesiac syndrome – are usually lucid and know who they are, but they may have trouble learning new information and forming new memories. Amnesia can be caused by damage to areas of the brain that are vital for processing memory.
Unlike a temporary episode of memory loss ( Transient Global Amnesia ), Amnesia can be permanent. There is no specific treatment for Amnesia , but techniques to improve memory and psychological support can help people with Amnesia and their families cope.
Causes of Amnesia: Normal memory function involves many parts of the brain, and any disease or injury that affects the brain can interfere with the complexities of memory. Amnesia can result from damage to the brain structures that form the limbic system, which controls your emotions and memories.
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These structures include the thalamus, which is found in the center of the brain, and the hippocampus formations, which lie within the temporal lobes of the brain. Amnesia caused by brain damage or damage is known as Neurological Amnesia . Possible causes of Neurological Amnesia include:
- Brain stroke
- Brain inflammation (encephalitis) as a result of infection with a virus such as herpes simplex virus, as an autoimmune reaction to cancer elsewhere in the body (paraneoplastic limbic encephalitis), or as an autoimmune reaction in the absence of cancer
- Lack of adequate oxygen to the brain, for example from heart attack, respiratory distress, or carbon monoxide poisoning
- Long-term alcohol abuse leading to thiamine (vitamin B-1) deficiency (Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome)
- Tumors in the areas of the brain that control memory
- Degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
- Certain medications, such as benzodiazepines
Head injuries that cause a concussion, whether from car accidents or sports, can lead to confusion and problems remembering new information. This is especially common in the early stages of recovery. But head injuries usually don’t cause severe amnesia .
Another rare type of amnesia , called dissociative (psychogenic) amnesia , stems from emotional shock or trauma, such as being the victim of a violent crime. In this disorder, a person may lose personal memories and autobiographical information, but usually only briefly.
Symptoms of Amnesia: The two main characteristics of Amnesia are:
- Impaired ability to learn new information after the onset of Amnesia ( Anterograde Amnesia )
- Impaired ability to recall past events and previously known information ( Retrograde Amnesia )
Most people with Amnesia have problems with short-term memory – they cannot retain new information. Recent memories are more likely to be lost, while more remote or deeply rooted memories can be spared. Someone may recall childhood experiences or know the names of past presidents but not be able to name the current president or remember what month it is or what breakfast was for.
Isolated memory loss does not affect a person’s intelligence, general knowledge, consciousness, attention span, judgment, personality, or identity. People with Amnesia can usually understand written and spoken words and can learn skills such as riding a bicycle or playing the piano. They may understand that they have a memory disorder.
Amnesia is not the same thing as dementia . Dementia often includes memory loss , but it also involves other significant cognitive problems that lead to a decline in the ability to carry out daily activities. A pattern of forgetfulness is also a common symptom of mild cognitive impairment (MCI), but memory and other cognitive problems in MCI are not as severe as those experienced in dementia . Depending on the cause of Amnesia , other signs and symptoms may include:
- False confusions (confabulation), either completely made up or composed of genuine memories misplaced in time
- Confusion or disorientation
When to See a Doctor: Anyone experiencing unexplained memory loss, head injury, confusion, or disorientation requires immediate medical attention. A person with Amnesia may not be able to pinpoint their location or have the presence of mind to seek medical attention. If someone you know has symptoms of Amnesia , help the person get medical attention.
Amnesia Complications: Amnesia varies in severity and scope, but even mild Amnesia has an impact on daily activities and quality of life. The syndrome can cause problems at work, school and in social settings. It may not be possible to recover lost memories. Some people with severe memory problems need to live in a supervised setting or in a long-term care facility.
Amnesia Risk Factors: The chance of developing Amnesia may increase if you have experienced:
- Brain surgery, head trauma or trauma
- Brain stroke
- alcohol abuse
Amnesia Treatments: Amnesia treatment focuseson techniques and strategies to help resolve the memory problem.
Occupational Therapy: A person with Amnesia may work with an occupational therapist to learn new information to replace what has been lost or to use intact memories as a basis for receiving new information. Memory training can also include a variety of strategies to organize information so that it is easier to remember and to improve understanding of prolonged conversation.
Tech Assistance: Many people with Amnesia find it helpful to use smart technology, such as a smartphone or portable tablet. With some training and practice, even people with severe amnesia can use these electronic organizers to help with everyday tasks. For example, smartphones can be programmed to remind them of important events or to take medication. Low-tech memory aids include notebooks, wall calendars, pill caretakers, and photographs of people and places.
Medications or Supplements: No medications are currently available to treat most types of Amnesia . Amnesia caused by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome involves a lack of thiamine . Treatment includes replacement of this vitamin and proper nutrition. While treatment, which also includes abstinence from alcohol, can help prevent further damage, most people will not recover all of their lost memory.
Researchers are investigating several neurotransmitters involved in memory formation, which could one day lead to new treatments for memory disorders. But the complexity of the brain processes involved makes it unlikely that a single drug will be able to solve memory problems.
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Amnesia Prevention: Since brain damage can be a root cause of Amnesia , it is important to take steps to minimize your chances of a brain injury. For example:
- Avoid excessive use of alcohol.
- Wear a helmet when cycling and a seat belt when driving.
- Treat any infection quickly so it doesn’t have a chance to spread to the brain.
- Seek immediate medical treatment if you have any symptoms that suggest a stroke or brain aneurysm, such as a severe headache or one-sided numbness or paralysis.