Types of Amnesia and Symptoms of Amnesia
Amnesia means the loss of memories, which may include any facts, experiences, and information. Although some movies or shows over-exaggerate its effects and show that a person forgets who he is, this doesn’t happen in real life.
Instead, people who have amnesia, generally, know quite well about who they are. It is just that they have trouble forming any new memories and learning new things.
Amnesia is caused due to the damage in areas of the brain that are important for processing memories. And what is dangerous about amnesia is, it can be permanent.
Unless you are having temporary episodes of loss of memory also known as transient global amnesia which will be discussed below.
Amnesia doesn’t have any kind of specific treatments but any techniques that are helpful in enhancing memories or any psychological support should help people with amnesia.
Now that we know what amnesia, let’s proceed towards what types of amnesia are there.
Types of Amnesia
Here are two common types of amnesia. The brief description should be enough to give a slight idea of how they affect and work.
Transient global amnesia
Transient global amnesia is a kind of amnesia where there is a sudden, temporary loss of memory. This can really be annoying sometimes.
If you have an episode of transient global amnesia, you forget all the recent events that happen with or around you and you may not be able to find out how you got there or even where you are.
Also, you may be confused about what is really going around.
So, this makes you ask a lot of things and you will be repeating same questions about the recent times. You may even forget what happened a week, month or even year ago.
In transient global amnesia, you have a good idea about who you are and you also recognize people close to you. But, this doesn’t make it any better. It is really annoying and can trigger other psychological and mental problems like depression.
Dissociative amnesia lies inside a group of conditions known as dissociative disorders. These are mental illnesses which involve breakdowns or disruptions of memory, awareness, consciousness, identity, and even perception.
Disruptions in these functions will bring problems and cause the symptoms to occur. They can really interfere with one’s social and work activities, relationships and even the general functioning.
Dissociative amnesia occurs generally when a person is facing a traumatic or stressful situation and they block out certain information which goes from simple forgetfulness to serious gaps in memories which make them lose memories of the certain time.
Dissociative amnesia doesn’t work like a simple amnesia, which generally includes loss of information from memories, which is caused due to some injury or knock to the brain.
In dissociative amnesia, the specific memories don’t really go away. They still exist but they cannot be recalled and they can come back only with some stimuli which can be a thing or a person which may remind them of that memories.
You will need to know how you can determine amnesia. Because a lot of memory-related diseases and conditions are out there, you may want to know specific symptoms. Here are some amnesia symptoms though they generally depend on the cause of amnesia.
- Memory loss: Of course. Amnesia means memory loss and this is the main symptom to look for.
- Confusion: The patient may be highly confused about what is going on and what happened before. This is due to their inability to remember the lost memories.
- Inability to recognize familiar people and places:
Generally, when a person recovers completely from amnesia, he/she don’t really have any memory of when they had their amnesia episode.
Here are some common causes of amnesia which should help you with determining an underlying amnesia problem or for preventing a problem from happening.
- Head injury
- Emotional shock or hysteria
- Severe illness
- High fever
- Alcohol-related brain damage
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Brain surgery
- Electroconvulsive therapy
- Certain drugs, such as barbiturates or heroin
- General anaesthetics
- Transient ischaemic attack (a ‘mini-stroke’)
These were some of the causes of amnesia and these play a great role in telling how severe the problem is. Severe head injuries might cause a long-term or permanent damage while side-effects from medicines may be healed with time.