Amnesia, as we know, is the sudden loss of memory. People with the condition will forget experiences, personal information and important facts. While it may be portrayed as light-hearted and quirky in films, amnesia is actually a heavy thing to deal with. However, ensuring you know more about the condition, including possible treatments, can help. To learn more, give this article a read!
What is Amnesia?
Amnesia is a form of memory loss that some people experience. Some people with amnesia may also experience difficulty forming new memories, recalling past experiences or recalling facts about themselves. There is no particular patterns of which memories they retain, as some may remember basic facts and motor skills.
While amnesia is commonly a part of aging, significant memory loss or the inability to form new memories can be an indication of a more serious amnestic condition. Despite its common use as a plot device in films and books, amnesia is actually quite rare.
Amnesia is different from being forgetful, instead referring to large-scale memory loss of events or facts which shouldn’t naturally be forgotten. This includes details on life events, stories or facts we’ve been taught, important people in our lives and other milestone. This inability to recall experiences may involve a variety of intricate brain processes, and many construct future scenarios based on recollections of past experiences.
Most people with amnesia become lucid and retain or build a sense of self, although this lucidity may drop in and out.
Symptoms of Amnesia
Here are some of the most common symptoms of amnesia:
- Inability to recognize various locations and faces
- Problems with short-term memory, total or partial loss of memory
- Disorientation or confusion
- Tremors and clumsy movements, which may indicate neurological problems
- False memory that may either be completely invented or is derived from past memories
- Impairment in remembering various past events and familiar information
- Impairment in the ability to understand and learn new things and information
Causes of Amnesia
Both injury or disease may affect the brain and interfere with memory, as the memory function actually engages several parts of the brain simultaneously. Damage to the limbic system, which includes the thalamus and hippocampus, may also lead to amnesia, as the limbic system controls memories and emotions. Other causes include:
- Various medications
- Alzheimer’s disease, other types of dementia and some other degenerative brain conditions
- Brain tumors (specifically in the area of the brain that controls memory)
- Long-term alcohol abuse
- Lack of oxygen to the brain, such as from carbon monoxide poisoning, a respiratory condition, or a heart attack.
- Inflammation of the brain
Risk Factors for Amnesia
Here are the most common factors that may increase the risk of amnesia:
- Alcohol abuse
- Head injury
- Brain surgery
Since brain damage is often the root of amnesia, it’s important to minimize the risk of brain injury. Here are some preventive measures that can help:
- Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms.
- Immediately treat any infection that occurs to prevent it from spreading to the brain.
- Always wear a helmet and safety gear when riding a bike, car or other potentially dangerous modes of transport.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
Treatments for Amnesia
In most cases, the condition can resolve itself without any treatment. However, if there is an underlying mental condition or physical problems, you must seek medical help. Treatments may involve certain strategies and techniques which help support memory functions, such as.:
- Using various digital aids like smartphones, which are beneficial in completing daily tasks and reminding patients about very important events.
- Learning strategies to mentally organize information, making it easier to store said information.
- Going to an occupational therapist to get new information, learn how to replace lost memories or use existing memories as a foundation for getting new information.