Amnesia is a collective term used to describe a condition characterized by loss of memory. The part of the brain that controls memory storage and retrieval is compromised by brain damage. This damage to the brain may affect the short-term or the long term memory. Brain damage may be caused by various events. The main one being trauma or physical causes such as stroke, a hard hit on the head, drug abuse, dementia or deficiency of some essential vitamins and minerals (Cermak S. Laird, 17). The physical damage to the brain may not necessarily result to permanent condition since many people actually experienced memory loss after an accident but returned to normal with time. There different types of amnesia that are caused by different factors. This paper examines the condition of memory loss and identifies causes, risk factors, as well as preventive measures. The paper will also look at the effects of amnesia
Types of Amnesia
There are different types of amnesia which are caused by different factors. These include:
Anterograde Amnesia: people with this type of amnesia are not able to remember events that occur after the event that triggers the loss of memory (Cermak S. Laird, 39). This means that they can be able to remember memories of long ago but the current event are only retrieved shortly after and then they cannot be able to remember them any more. This problem is caused by events not being recorded in the permanent memory and if they are then the retrieval process is hampered by brain damage. Anterograde Amnesia is characterized by confabulation in which cases the patients may confuse fictional events with real events to fill in gaps in their memories.
Retrograde: this type of Amnesia causes the erasing of memories that were held before the event that caused the Amnesia. According to[ people with this kind of amnesia have problems remembering that is beyond the normal level of forgetfulness. In addition, it is possible for a person to experience a mix of these two types of amnesia. A good example is a motorist who is not able to remember events occurring before an accident.
Transient Global Amnesia: this is a well documented type of amnesia that is sudden and characterized by disorientation of time and place, inability to retain new information given as well asking such questions as where are we, or what time it is. This type of amnesia may be triggered by strenuous activity (Roy Sucholeiki.1). The sufferers may have no past history of mental disorder or trauma. Additionally, they may not suffer any kind of confabulation. Anterograde Amnesia is almost always present in people suffering from Transient Global Amnesia.
Korsakoff’s Syndrome: this is mainly caused by chronic alcoholism where alcohol causes a deficiency of thiamin (vitamin b1)
Traumatic Amnesia: this is almost always caused by head injury or psychological instability as a result of stress.
Source Amnesia: source Amnesia is a type of mental disorder
Causes of Amnesia
One of the main causes of Amnesia is head injury due to hard knock on the head. Accident victims may often suffer from amnesia. Even though the amnesia may not be permanent. Injury in the brain interferes with parts of the brain that are involved in memory recording or retrieval or consolidation. This means that there occurs a problem with storing information or retrieving it.
Alzheimer’s disease: this is a disease that is most common among the aged. Research has found a strong co- relation between age and memory loss (Butters Nelson et al, 137). The degeneration of brain cells occurs with the passing of time reaching critical levels for people who suffer from such diseases as Alzheimer’s disease.
Psychological Trauma: this is the kind of amnesia that is caused by emotional instability or that follows moments of intense mental stress.
Brain infection: this kind of amnesia may be caused by brain diseases such as encephalitis or meningitis. These diseases have the effect of causing the brain to malfunction. Other common causes are seizure, dementia, or stroke. There are other causes that are not very common including brain tumors and psychiatric disorders.
Dietary problems such as malnutrition may cause a deficiency in vitamin B1 and other essential vitamins that are important in enhancing memory and recall. Additionally, Amnesia has also been found to be very common among chronic alcoholics or rehabilitated alcoholics.
Some of the symptoms that may be evident in Amnesiacs may include confusion, disorientation, and loss of physical balance where the Amnesiac may become unsteady, drowsiness, or a feeling of dizziness, problem with vision including double vision and agitation. Severe cases may result in dementia (Baddeley D. Alan, 45).
Remedial and Preventive measures:
Different preventive measures exist for different types of Amnesia. These approaches are dependent on the causes of this condition. This means that if a certain event triggers amnesia then it is avoided or eliminated from the sufferer’s life. For those whose Amnesia is caused by dietary problems, the preventive measure is to address this problem by changing dietary habits so as to integrate healthy eating habits. Vitamin supplements may be taken by Amnesiacs especially Vitamin B1, C, and E. In the same way antioxidants that are found in different food plants for instance herbal tea may also have a positive effect on Amnesiacs. For Amnesiacs with Alzheimer’s disease a range of medical remedies are available especially remedies that enhance cholinergic function of the brain. Nursing care may also be required for those with critical Amnesia. For those Amnesia is as are a result of excessive alcohol intake, the remedy could simply begin with stoppage of drinking. Psychotherapy is a good preventive measure for those who have suffered emotional trauma. These people may also consider seeking psychiatric assistance. In addition to all these people with Amnesia (especially if it is triggered by emotional factors) require love care and understanding from all those around them. Memory loss is potentially frustrating both to Amnesiacs as well as to caregivers and family and much patience is a must.
Much research has focused on the human memory impairment in all manner of distinct cases. The degeneration process has been well documented and so are the causes, etiology, preventive measures and treatment of the common form of Amnesia. Many risk factors that can be avoided have been found such as chronic alcoholism and malnutrition. Some outcomes of the ongoing research have been discussed in this paper. Amnesiacs and their families can benefit greatly from recommendations that can remedy the situation.
Baddeley D. Alan: Essentials of human memory. East Sussex. Psychology press. 1999.
Butters Nelson, Dean C. Delis, John A. Lucas; Clinical assessment of memory disorders
in Amnesia and Dementia. Annual review of psychology Vol. 46, 1995.
Cermak S. Laird. Human Memory and Amnesia. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates 1982
Roy Sucholeiki. Transcient Global Amnesia e medicine. (2006). Available at
http://www.emedicine.com/neuro/topic 380.htm Accessed on 17.05.07.