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What is amnesia and types of amnesia

What is amnesia and types of amnesia

Amnesia it is a partial or total loss of memory caused by biological or functional causes. The biological causes may involve brain damage related to trauma, disease or drug use, while functional causes can be caused by psychological defense mechanisms.

When a person suffers from amnesia, he may have difficulty remembering past places or stages, as well as specific details. Other people, however, cannot remember new information, although they keep their past memories intact.

Types of amnesia

There are many types of amnesia depending on the causes and the nature of the disease progression. The main types of amnesia are the anterograde amnesia and the retrograde amnesia, not being exclusive among them. Other types of amnesia are also registered due to their specificity and nature.

Anterograde amnesia

There is talk of anterograde amnesia when the patient is not able to remember new information. Recent events and information that must be stored in short-term memory to be converted into long-term memory disappear. However, past events prior to the situation that triggered amnesia can be remembered. Normally, this is the result of a brain trauma that surrounds the hippocampus, the fornix or the mamillary bodies, fundamental structures for our memory.

Retrograde amnesia

In retrograde amnesia, unlike in the previous one, there is a inability to remember events that occurred before this condition affected us, although the events that have happened after can be remembered. Especially, it is the events that have occurred just before the amnesia arrived that are least remembered, while the oldest memories are usually maintained. This can occur both due to trauma and diseases that affect structures related to long-term memory such as the hippocampus and temporal lobes. Both anterograde and retrograde amnesia can be suffered at the same time.

Transient Global Amnesia

It is a total temporary loss of short-term memory and according to severity, also of long-term memory. Person stop remembering recent events or verbal information, without being able to create new memories or evoke anything that happened beyond the last minutes. However, identity, language function and perceptual, visual, spatial and social skills are preserved. This becomes very confusing and is usually accompanied by a state of anxiety, but does not usually last more than one day. It is not a very frequent condition and usually occurs in people between 56 and 75 years old, due to multiple causes such as cardiovascular problems, migraines or some kind of epileptic event.

Wernicke-Korsakoff psychosis

Wernicke-Korsakoff Psychosis is a progressive loss of memory due to prolonged use of alcohol. Generally, it is accompanied by other neurological dysfunctions such as loss of motor coordination or loss of sensation in feet and fingers. It can also be caused by malnutrition, specifically by the loss of vitamin B1.

Dissociative amnesia

It is a type of amnesia in which the patient is unable to remember personal information perceived as negative or stressful. The causes of this type of amnesia are psychological, are not due to diseases or brain traumas. Normally patients do not experience an identity crisis, but live a trance in which they can develop a depersonalization as an effort to block a stressful experience.

It can be about repressed memory, when there is no ability to access information about a traumatic event, even if the information is stored in long-term memory.

Talk about dissociative leak or state of escape, when the person suffers a loss of memory, including their identity, getting to travel away from their family environment and even getting to form a new identity. They are the result of living traumatic or highly stressful situations. It is a very rare situation.

Child Amnesia

It is the inability to remember childhood events due to the immaturity of certain areas of the brain in its early stages. This amnesia usually covers those events that have occurred since the person's birth until their first four years of life.

If you or someone you know experiences some of the symptoms of memory loss, do not hesitate to consult a professional.