Learn about the causes of Amnesia & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Amnesia within New Zealand.
Amnesia is the partial or complete loss of memory and inability to remember past experiences. Amnesia can be caused by damage to the brain through trauma or disease or from psychological factors. Symptoms of amnesia include difficulty remembering day-to-day events, problems recalling names, faces or words and inability to remember childhood memories.
Causes of amnesia
Amnesia is caused by injury or damage to the brain from trauma,
disease, infection, reduced blood flow (stroke) or the misuse of
alcohol and drugs. The common association to amnesia and memory loss is
from brain injuries after a blow to the head or from degeneration of
brain cells (as in dementia).
With head injury and disease, brain cells are lost and cannot be replaced. Car accidents or severe blows to the head cause the most significant amount of brain damage leading to a state of confusion and memory loss.
Infections such as herpes can cause memory loss while malnutrition, drink and drug abuse all deprive the brain of essential nutrients which kill off brain cells and result in loss of memory. Amnesia can also occur after a stroke as the area of the brain that deals with memory function is affected.
Symptoms of amnesia
Someone suffering with amnesia will have difficulty recalling
information they have previously learned and/or will find learning new
information difficult. Amnesia sufferers can feel disorientated and
confused and symptoms can be so severe that they require full-time care.
Typically, amnesia lasts 24-48 hours but severe trauma can extend that period to weeks or months. In cases of dementia (Alzheimer's etc.), memory loss is all but permanent with the patient recalling partial information from their life but in a sporadic and haphazard manner.
There are three main types of amnesia: anterograde amnesia, retrograde amnesia and Korsakoff's psychosis.
Anterograde amnesia – sufferers will have difficulty remembering ongoing events and day-to-day routine. Past memories from childhood or self-awareness are not affected.
Retrograde amnesia – someone with this type of amnesia will have difficulty retrieving memories prior to their head injury or damage to the brain. In the case of accidents, people sometimes never recall the few seconds leading up to their incident.
Korsakoff's psychosis – this is memory loss caused by the misuse of alcohol. Short-term memory is normal but recalling people's names, faces or simple words and stories becomes difficult. Korsakoff's psychosis is a progressive disorder that is accompanied by other neurological problems such as poor coordination.
Other types of amnesia include:
Traumatic amnesia – caused by a blow to the head usually from a road accident and leading to loss of consciousness or coma.
Childhood amnesia – Sigmund Freud put the inability to recall childhood memories down to sexual repression but other experts have linked the problem to areas of the brain involved with memory having not matured properly.
Hysterical amnesia – episodes of psychological trauma can cause this temporary condition whereby the mind finds it difficult to deal with a severe traumatic event and so slows down the memory. Recalling the traumatic event may be possible again after a few days but the memory may remain incomplete.
Diagnosis of amnesia
The diagnosis of amnesia requires a doctor to perform a thorough
evaluation to rule out any underlying medical conditions such as
Alzheimer's disease, depression or brain tumours. As amnesia affects
memory, a family member or close friend may need to accompany the
person to answer questions about their medical history.
To determine memory loss, the doctor will ask questions about:
Should the individual have suffered a recent blow to the head then seek emergency treatment immediately. Do not wait and book and appointment to see your GP.