Amnesia is ... Definition, causes, symptoms and treatment

Amnesia is a complete or partial loss of memory of those events that occurred in the distant past or present. In some cases, manifested as a violation of the ability to memorize new information.


Since memory refers to mental processes, usually the symptoms inherent in such a disease are equated with cognitive disorders.

Amnesia is the pathological loss of memories of past or current events in a person’s life. Typically, this disease is part of the symptoms of a variety of neurological diseases, psychological disorders, chronic intoxication, acute poisoning. The treatment of this pathology is based on its causes, mainly used pharmaco-and psychotherapy. In the case of the presence of tumors or hematomas, they are promptly removed.

Special features

In Latin, amnesia is unconsciousness.True, the absence of any memories is not always considered a disease. For example, there is childhood amnesia - a phenomenon in which a person does not remember the first few years of his life. This situation is well known to most people.

Varieties of amnesia

In medicine, this disease is considered as a loss of past memories, as well as a lack of ability to recall recent circumstances. Amnesia in combination with other symptoms often becomes part of the clinical picture of various psychiatric and neurological diseases. According to statistics, approximately 25% of the population of the entire planet faced with impaired memory.

Causes of disease

The main prerequisites for the development of amnesia usually become mental pathology. People suffering from mental diseases regularly experience occasional memory problems:

  • Epilepsy - problems with memories occur during periods of seizures.
  • Split personality. With such a pathology during the displacement of one person by another, some of the parties perceives everything that happens as a dream.
  • Hysterical amnesia appears due to unpleasant events: strong experiences, loss of loved ones, disasters.In such a situation, a person is surrounded by negative emotions, crowding out information about himself.
  • Dissociative fugue is a memory loss that occurs after trauma. Faced with an extreme emotional event, a person can forget himself for days or even entire months, often leaving his place of residence. At this time, the patient forgets all his data: date of birth, name, surname, address. But at the same time, a person can perfectly remember his skills: for example, how to play the piano or drive a car. After the shock passes, the memory returns.
  • Schizophrenia. This pathology is characterized by hallucinations, in which the patient clearly hears his own thoughts, perceiving them as voices, suggests abnormal ideas. In the absence of proper therapy, the patient may forget who he is, who his parents are, and will not be able to react even to basic questions.
  • Alzheimer's syndrome. First, the disease is characterized by mild forgetfulness, and then it progresses and affects memory. The patient loses the ability to fully reflect, confused in words, becomes aggressive.
Causes of amnesia

Other conditions of development

In addition to mental problems, there are other prerequisites for the occurrence of amnesia. A description of the most common among them are presented below.

  • Head injuries blunt or penetrating nature. Damage to brain tissue leads to memory loss. Even a slight concussion can harm memories.
  • Penetration of infections in the brain or nervous system: HIV, meningitis, hepatitis, syphilis, tuberculosis, AIDS.
  • Intoxication with poisons or medicines. Prolonged abuse of alcohol, drugs can cause irreversible injuries of brain tissue. The use of strong tranquilizers, antidepressants, sedative drugs can provoke short-term amnesia.
  • Vitamin A deficiency1, glucose, thiamine, and anorexia. Such causes of amnesia are common in women who prefer strict diets and fasting. All these elements are extremely important for the brain, and their lack leads at first to fatigue, fainting, and then to memory loss. Of course, these signs will not appear soon.
  • Choking with carbon monoxide gas, paints and varnishes and pesticides.
  • Malignant and benign neoplasms.
  • The lack of oxygen in the brain, which is caused by injury to the lungs, chest cavity, bronchitis, asphyxiation, pneumonia, or cardiovascular pathologies.
Concomitant amnesia diseases
  • Failures in the bloodstream can also cause short-term memory loss.
  • Surgical intervention or other physical conditions. Colonoscopy, neurosurgery, and endoscopy can lead to memory problems.

People over 50 are in the highest risk zone. Partial loss of memory can occur in a person during a sudden stressful effect: cold water, electricity, violence.


Each type of memory in the brain is controlled by different structures. Amnesia is classified according to the symptoms and causes of amnesia, as well as taking into account a period of time that the patient cannot remember.

  • Retrograde variety. The situation that traumatizes the psyche affects the short-term memory - the patient cannot recall the events that occurred before the event. A person can forget hours, days, and even weeks.In this case, the patient can accurately describe the bright events of his life. The person remains completely disoriented, cannot remember how she got into the room, what happened to her.
  • Anterograde form. A person can not remember the events that occurred after injury. After recovery, the patient can normally answer the doctor's questions, can describe everything that is happening, but gradually this information is forgotten.
  • Kongradny type. Unlike other forms of amnesia, with this disease a person cannot remember the peak of pathology. This disease is very similar to someone with a fever, in which the patient can not perceive the surrounding information.
  • Fixative amnesia. With this form of the disease in the memory of a person does not remain the events occurring now.
Symptoms of amnesia

Symptoms of amnesia

Treatment of the disease depends primarily on the symptoms that appear. Although, of course, the main symptom of this pathology is a sudden loss of memories. But since memory loss is not a disease, it is very important to pay attention to the overall clinical picture. The main symptoms and signs of amnesia are:

  • excessive aggressiveness;
  • distraction;
  • false memories of themselves and others;
  • bouts of hatred for friends and relatives;
  • excessive irritability;
  • neuropathy;
  • impulsiveness;
  • coordination disorders;
  • identifying yourself with another person.
Signs of amnesia

In some cases, the patient does not recognize items belonging to him personally or to relatives.


Sometimes attacks of amnesia that last for several minutes or hours can go away on their own and do not need treatment. But if the damage is characterized by a severe form, the help of a specialist is necessary. In order to determine this disease and timely identify its symptoms, it is necessary to know what amnesia is.

Diagnosis of amnesia

To diagnose the disease specialists are taken, based on the causes and the overall clinical picture. The examination is performed by a neurologist with the assistance of other doctors: a narcologist, a neurosurgeon, a psychiatrist, an infectious disease specialist. The standard diagnosis scheme consists of several stages.

Stages of pathology detection

  • Collecting history. A survey of previous pathology events, symptoms of the disease.
  • Comprehensive psychological research.Required in patients with psychogenic memory loss and impairment.
  • Definition of neurological status. Allows you to detect the symptoms of CNS pathology, as well as to identify the stage of post-traumatic phenomena.
  • Visualization of the brain. Patients with craniocerebral injuries and intracranial hematomas are sent to CT. MRI is effective in diagnosing tumors, foci of post-stroke, degenerative events.
  • Biochemical study of blood. This procedure helps determine the rate of vitamin B, the presence of toxins and drugs.
  • Electroencephalography. Appointed to patients with signs of epilepsy. Gives you the ability to scan brain activity.
  • Examination of cerebral hemodynamics. It is necessary in case of suspected genesis of memory disorders.
  • Examination of cerebrospinal fluid. Required in the case of the assumption of intracranial hemorrhage and infectious picture.

Necessary treatment

Therapy is selected based on the etiology and symptoms of the pathology. In the case of organic amnesia, drug treatment is usually used, and in psychogenic therapy, psychotherapy is used. When pharmacotherapy are used:

  • antiplatelet agents and vasodilators that stabilize cerebral circulation and tissue nutrition;
  • memantines normalize mystic functions, are effective for the treatment of amnesia, concomitant Alzheimer's disease;
  • antioxidants and neuroprotectors optimize metabolic processes in neurons, increasing their resistance to adverse conditions;
  • nootropics stimulate cerebral tissue metabolism and cognitive abilities;
  • anticholinesterase drugs stop the development of dementia in adulthood.
Amnesia treatment

Other techniques

Treatment of psychogenic varieties of the disease is not aimed at restoring the lost information, but at accepting the fact of their absence by the sick. Such therapy is carried out by the psychotherapist and consists of several stages.

  • Creatine treatment. Assigned to patients who prefer to conceal their thoughts and feelings. Produced by art therapy, fairy tale therapy and similar techniques.
  • Psychotherapy. A positive result is achieved with the help of cognitive-behavioral therapy. In the case of children's injuries, psychoanalysis is applied, which enables the patient to reconsider his attitude to what happened.
  • Drug therapy. Acts as a supplement to psychotherapy.It is necessary for patients suffering from various deviations, anxiety, depression, anxiety. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and sedatives are used.

Preventive measures

Symptoms of amnesia and its course are very unpredictable. The outcome of the disease is interrelated with the underlying disease, age and etiofactors. However, it is possible to identify the disease in time if you know what amnesia is and how it manifests itself.

Preventive measures include the prevention of head injuries, intoxication, competent and timely treatment of headaches, infections, epilepsy, cardiovascular disorders.

In addition, it is very important to protect a person from traumatic effects. As for predictions, post-traumatic amnesia has a reversible nature. And the disease as a result of pathological changes in the central nervous system is characterized by a constantly developing course. Young people recover memory much better than older patients.

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