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What Is Amnesia?

April 02, 2013
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Amnesia is a rare medical condition that most people are aware of but few actually understand. This week Disability Living is blogging about a very important topic — memory loss. Memory loss affects thousands of people in North America. Amnesia is a medical condition that can cause severe memory loss.

What is amnesia?

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Amnesia refers to the loss of memories, such as facts, information and experiences.” One thing about amnesia that most people are unaware of is the fact that it does not cause a total loss of identity. For example, the affected person will still probably know who they are and have a sense of self. Amnesia is typically permanent, and it affects someone’s ability to learn and retain new information.

An amnesia-affected person’s brain is not able to make the connections needed for long term storage of information. It is also difficult for the brain to create a new memory by using stored information. For someone who has amnesia, short term memories “just don’t stick.” This is why people with amnesia are unable to remember many things. Interestingly, those with amnesia sometimes are unable to imagine future happenings.

What types of amnesia are there?

There are many different types of amnesia, including:

– Anterograde amnesia
– Retrograde amnesia
– Traumatic amnesia
– Transient global amnesia
– Posthypnotic amnesia
– Source amnesia
– Blackout phenomenon
– Childhood amnesia
– Hysterical amnesia
– Wernike-Korsakoff’s psychosis

Read more about the different types of amnesia at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/9673.php

What Causes Amnesia?

Amnesia can be caused by a number of factors, including certain sedative drugs, brain damage by injury, degenerative brain diseases (Alzheimer’s, for example), and psychological defense mechanisms. Regardless of the cause of amnesia, the condition seriously impedes on a person’s life. The good news is there is support for people with amnesia.

Is amnesia treatable?

“There’s no specific treatment for amnesia, but techniques for enhancing memory and psychological support can help people with amnesia and their families cope.” Psychological support and memory enhancing techniques can sometimes equip people who have amnesia with the skills they need to perform daily tasks and achieve some level of independence.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/amnesia/DS01041

Image made available by Moyan_Brenn on Flickr through Creative Commons License.

*Please note: All research for this article is compiled from direct and third party sources. Mention of programs, organizations and companies does not imply support of The National Benefit Authority.  Pictures are for creative purposes only; they are not intended to sell or promote products for the NBA and belong to the accredited individual, organization or company.

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