What is Amnesia — Symptoms, Types, and Triggers
Updated on January 31, 2024
6 min read

What is Amnesia — Symptoms, Types, and Triggers

Table of Contents

Troubles with remembering things might mean that the mind leaps into amnesia. The term amnesia refers to a cognitive failure when the individual cannot bring out of the memory previously processed data or events from the past. Affected individuals might also find a mental activity like forming new memories increasingly onerous. A lapse of memory causes an array of untoward incidents and inconveniences, preventing normal performance. However, being equipped with extra information about human memorization mechanisms means being able to prevent unwanted lapses.

Let’s unpack types of amnesia, their triggers, and preventive care strategies.

The origin of encoded information loss can be both psychogenic that is provoked by severe stress, and neurological. Consequently, it can be difficult to recall short-term types of memories. Intensely ingrained memories can also be lost in individuals suspected of having amnesia. Who’s at higher risk of serious symptoms? It seems that the most common factor is age. To stay mentally nimble, forward-thinking, and savvy regardless of age, it is required to keep your brain in constant functioning and be engaged in dynamic mental activity.

Understanding amnesia and memories removal

Forgetting some portions of data are normal due to the specific work of our cognitive system. For example, visual memory is the brain’s capacity to hold some part of visual data in storage in a readily available form. It means that we can recall it but only during a short period. It usually lasts for no more than several seconds. If you forgot some bright details of a picture you have just seen or can’t describe the features of an interior you have just visited, this is not a sign of cognitive deterioration. Of course, it is possible to make visual encoding stronger. However, this is considered normal and is not a symptom of the disease.

As for erasing memories out of the norm, then delayed or slowed recalling and unusual or excessive forgetting might be alarming signs of the condition known as amnesia. Brain traumas or damages are the main sources. Most often, partial or complete failures in memory work are accompanied by other disorders of the mind’s cognitive function or the nervous system. It encompasses conditions such as clearly expressed thinking disorders, anxiety or depression, sluggish speech, or inability to control attention. That is when tips on how to remember something you forgot will not help, and only medical care and customized therapy can bring back memory capacity.

How to recognize amnesia

Being mildly forgetful and having rare episodes of memory lapses, for example, forgetting where you put your keys or the book page on which you have finished reading, are signs that stem from ordinary overtiredness or inattention. They are easy to overcome, and this is no cause for concern. However, if slow memorization and intensive mind fog disrupt daily life, then there are risks of diseases that can provoke severe episodes of data loss. It means that one is unable to perform efficiently. Some of the signs of amnesia which can make one totally disoriented are significant confusion and unclear thoughts.

Remember that omitting important details or facts or not remembering about an appointment and other plans once in a while should be fine for you. But repeated forgetfulness might signify a more serious issue. If having lapses and low brain performance, mind aids bring no progress, and on the contrary, regression is noticed; it is pivotal to consult health care specialists. Overall cognitive performance, concomitant symptoms, and categories of things that an individual forgets or cannot encode can help identify the loss type. Generally speaking, amnesia can be total or partial. This categorization is not the only one.

Retrograde type of amnesia

Situations or events that happened a long time ago is not accessible for a person suspected of struggling with retrograde amnesia whilst recent events are left untouched. Gained data and knowledge before the onset of such memory loss type might be erased. However, it is mostly about facts rather than abilities or skills. It means that it is possible to forget the fact about owning a bicycle, but how to ride it will still be easily recalled.

Transient global type of amnesia

It is distinguished by temporary lapses whilst overall well-being is not affected. It means that even having the most alert brain, one can experience uncertainty and confusion. Also, it is still possible to retain one’s individuality, but learning the surroundings will be a tall order. Such failures usually last no more than a day but cause a lot of suffering. Once the possibility of complications has been ruled out, you can expect a full recovery.

Anterograde type of amnesia

Having experienced traumatic, distressing, or shocking events, the mental mechanisms may fail. As a result, anterograde amnesia develops. It is characterized by an unlimited period of lost memory, the duration of which is related to the period of the post-traumatic disorder of conscious activity. Individuals can still retrieve childhood events during this period, but memory dysfunction makes one unable to shape fresh memories. If it has developed after an injury, the period of lost memory will depend on its severity.

Childhood amnesia

Incidents from early years can also be wiped away from the mental storage. One of the causes may be insufficient development of certain brain areas at birth.

Drug-induced loss

This is a type of memory loss that occurs after the introduction of substances or drugs that affect cognitive functioning. It leads to the fact that the events that are happening at that moment are not encoded.

Dissociative amnesia

This form of loss is about the incapability of recollecting facts about yourself, but general knowledge is kept. Someone who has witnessed a cruel and harrowing event can experience the condition. There is no personal crisis that may impede recalling, but one goes through a state of harsh shock, so depersonalization occurs. This is how the brain tries to suppress stress and protect itself from detrimental emotional effects. Several subtypes can be mentioned here — total amnesia, which lasts throughout a person’s life, selective type, when the person remembers the events in a certain order, and systematized disorders associated with data loss in specific categories.

What causes amnesia?

Emotional shock, tumors, and strokes can be identified among the most common sources of the condition. However, amnesia can be provoked by a myriad of other diseases, for example, epilepsy, mental diseases, and degenerative disorders. Severe stress can induce dissociative fugue. It is quite dangerous, as an individual forfeits one’s sense of identity and unconsciously wanders somewhere away from work or home, ending up in an unexpected location. Also, traumatic events are probably the most widespread cause that evokes dissociative amnesia.

Methods that help to detect amnesia

For treatment, it is needed to determine triggers as accurately as possible. If symptoms are detected, a comprehensive examination with the consultation of a psychiatrist and neurologist is required. For in-depth diagnosis, special detailed testing of cognitive functions and examination by a traumatologist, infectious disease specialist, and neurosurgeon may be needed. A blood test, ECG, and MRI are some of the tests which will help to restore mental function.

Is it possible to prevent amnesia and its symptoms?

The structure and function of human memory have not yet been fully explored. Evidence of this could be collective memory obfuscations, such as the Mandela effect, or a blind mind’s eye, which means that one cannot visualize things, objects, or concepts at all. Both of these phenomena are still hard to explain. Research and tests are actively being conducted to advance our understanding of how our brain works and, more importantly, how to prevent intellectual and memory deterioration. However, the thing that has been proven that not only the brain is involved in the process of memorization, but also the entire nervous system. This means that to prevent some types of amnesia, it is paramount to strengthen cognitive processes and promote the growth of neurons in the brain.

Lots of brain studies have found that having high levels of social integration, it is possible to slow down any type of cognitive issues. One more proven mental workout is using an improve-memory app or mind games available on online platforms. Sometimes, such methods are underrated. However, they assist in rewiring thinking modes and stimulating fresh connections within the brain. Some of the memory aids will help to shield away from aging effects. Working out mentally, the brain will be more elastic and will have the ability to recover better in case of illness or injury.


What is the source amnesia?

Knowing that the capital of Australia is Canberra but not remembering the moment of acquiring this fact is a source amnesia example.

Can you get cured from amnesia?

There’s no one healing formula that suits all. Usually, the therapy solution is customized and aimed at fighting the cause.

How do people get amnesia?

Shocking events may lead to failure in encoding new things, loss of already formed memories, or a blackout.

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