Memory Loss (Amnesia)

What is Amnesia?

Amnesia, also known as amnestic syndrome or memory loss, can be temporary or it may continue to get worse as time goes by. There are various reasons why individuals suffer from memory problems and this condition often occurs due to damage to the brain.

Common causes include brain tumors, stroke, fluid on the brain, concussion, lack of oxygen to the brain and brain diseases. Some people who have lived through a traumatic experience may suffer a temporary loss of memory, which is called dissociative amnesia. Temporary amnesia is also linked to medication side effects, alcohol consumption and lack of vitamin B12. There are some liver, kidney or thyroid diseases that can also affect memory.

Partial memory loss can be connected to normal aging processes and therefore be physiological, while dementia (often associated with Alzheimer’s disease) leads to a continuous, pathological decline in memory.

What are the Symptoms of Amnesia?

The symptoms that individuals have with memory loss is the failure to remember what has happened in the past or forgetting things they have just learned. Some people with amnesia have both past and present memory loss.

Many individuals with memory loss can recite things that happened many years ago but they cannot remember what they did the previous day. This is known as short-term memory loss because they are unable to recall things that are new. Another symptom of memory loss is fabricating stories about past experiences that the person conceives to be the truth. People who have amnesia may also experience episodes of confusion.

How is Amnesia Treated?

Treatments for memory loss consists of occupational therapy sessions to help improve a person’s memory by using various memory training exercises. The advancements in technology are very beneficial for people who have memory loss. Smartphones and other devices can be set to send reminders for daily activities. Individuals can also use a pen and paper to record important things to remember.

Family members and friends should offer much support to individuals who have amnesia. Looking at family photos or listening to a favorite kind of music can often help individuals who have problems with their memory.

Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
August 30, 2017