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Amnesia refers to the loss of memories, such as facts, information and experiences, caused by brain damage, disease, or psychological trauma. Amnesia can also be caused temporarily by the use of various sedatives and hypnotic drugs. The memory can be either wholly or partially lost due to the extent of damage that was caused.



Amnesia can result from damage to brain structures that form the limbic system, which controls your emotions and memories. These structures include the thalamus, which lies deep within the centre of your brain, and the hippocampus, situated within the temporal lobes of your brain.



There are two main types of amnesia, namely, retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia.



The following are common symptoms of amnesia:

  • The ability to learn new information is impaired in anterograde amnesia.

  • The ability to remember past events and previously familiar information is impaired in retrograde amnesia

  • False memories may be either completely invented or consist of real memories misplaced in time, in a phenomenon known as confabulation.

  • Uncoordinated movements and tremors indicate neurological problems.

  • Confusion or disorientation may occur.

  • There may be problems with short-term memory, partial or total loss of memory

  • The person may be unable to recognize faces or locations.


Risk factors

The chance of developing amnesia might increase if you've experienced:

  • Brain surgery, head injury or trauma

  • Stroke

  • Alcohol abuse

  • Seizures


Because damage to the brain can be a root cause of amnesia, it's important to take steps to minimize your chance of a brain injury. Examples include:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol use.

  • Wear a helmet when bicycling and a seat belt when driving.

  • Treat any infection quickly so that 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.

  • Stay mentally active throughout your life. For instance, take classes, explore new places, read new books, and play mentally challenging games.



To treat amnesia, your doctor will focus on the underlying cause of your condition.


Chemically induced amnesia, from alcohol for example, can be resolved through detoxification. Once the drug is out of your system, your memory problems will probably subside.


Amnesia from mild head trauma usually resolves without treatment over time. Amnesia from severe head injury may not recede. However, improvements usually occur within six to nine months.


Amnesia from dementia is often incurable. However, your doctor may prescribe medications to support learning and memory.



Culled from Staywellworld blog post dated January 06, 2018.

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