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What is amnesia?

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Amnesia is a disorder of a person’s memory, manifested in the form of a pathological loss of memories of the circumstances of life. Amnestic syndrome remains a common complication of neurological diseases, mental disorders, chronic intoxication, or acute poisoning.

Childhood amnesia is common. Most people cannot tell about the events of the first three years of their lives. Doctors do not always view a lack of memories of past events as a pathology.

The main clinical manifestation is the loss of a person’s memories of significant events in the past or the circumstances of recent actions. Amnestic syndrome remains a common manifestation of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

The causes. Experts say that one of the reasons for loss of memory is the presence of mental and neurological diseases. It is in these patients that memory problems are quite often observed. Among the pathologies that can provoke the onset of amnesia, one can distinguish epilepsy, dissociative disorder or multiple personality disorder, hysteria, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Other provoking factors can be blunt or penetrating head injuries, infectious lesions of the brain or nervous system, including AIDS, hepatitis, and poisoning. Morever, it can be caused by:

  • deficiency of vitamin B1 in the body
  • hypoxia
  • impaired blood circulation in the tissues of the brain
  • the appearance of tumors, as well as surgical interventions.

The most common causes are changes in the structures of the patient’s brain. Metabolic, morphological, or bioelectrical disorders occur against the background of:

  • craniocerebral trauma,
  • brain tumors
  • cerebral hypoxia,
  • neuroinfections,
  • intoxications,
  • degenerative diseases of the central nervous system,
  • epilepsy.

Psychological trauma has a significant impact on the state of memory. The loss of memories becomes a defensive reaction against the background of the events that have taken place. Partial loss of memory can result from alcoholic delirium, dissociative disorder, or schizophrenia.

Types of amnesia

Experts identify the following types:

  • Childhood is characterized by a person’s lack of memories of infancy. A similar state is characteristic of almost every person.
  • Anterograde amnesia, a person cannot retain in their memory new events that have occurred in their life.
  • Retrograde amnesia, memories that occurred before memory loss disappear.
  • A dissociative fugue is a temporary loss of personality when a person mistakes themself for another, and then there is a sharp return of memory.
  • Dissociative, specific facts or events from life are forgotten, but a person continues to store universal knowledge.
  • Transient epileptic temporary lapses in memory when the patient continues to behave appropriately.
  • Cryptomnesia, the source of information received, is forgotten, and a person passes it off as their own.

Types of amnestic syndromes. The basis for the classification of pathology is the characteristics of the completeness of loss of memory, chronological orientation, and features of the course. During the diagnosis, doctors consider all the parameters since the patient’s treatment strategy depends on them.

Neurologists distinguish three types according to the completeness of memory loss:

  • absolute,
  • partial,
  • local.

In the first case, the patient cannot remember any events in a certain period of the past; second, the dissociative one has vague and fragmentary memories. Local amnestic disorders are diagnosed when the patient loses a particular skill or skill.

The extended classification considers the temporal location of forgotten events at the time of the onset of amnesia.

Retrograde amnesia

Retrograde amnesia

A specific symptom of retrograde amnesia is the patient’s lack of memories of the events that happened to them before the development of the disease.

Causes. The emergence of acute retrograde amnesia is often associated with stroke, traumatic brain damage, and herpetic encephalitis. Sometimes this type of memory damage occurs as a result of intoxication or metabolic encephalopathy.

Because the hippocampus is especially sensitive to hypoxia and ischemia, its damage is observed in violation of blood circulation, suffocation, and carbon monoxide intoxication. With a gradually increasing memory loss, it can arise from a tumor, mental illness, degenerative changes in the brain.

Retrograde amnesia often occurs in patients who suffer from epileptic seizures, cerebrovascular dysfunction, and migraine attacks. More often, the disease affects older women, as well as women of the middle-aged category. The duration of an attack can be different from several hours to several days; they are due to a complete inability to absorb new information. During such periods, a person loses the ability to navigate in space and looks lost. For such patients, it is a daunting task to remember the route they use every day.

Symptoms. With a mild degree of the disease, which has arisen against the background of brain injuries, the person retains adequacy and does not remember only an insignificant part of the events or confuses them.

During an attack, a person loses the ability to assimilate any new information, feels completely disoriented in space, and very often cannot even remember the names of loved ones. With an exacerbation of retrograde amnesia, a person turns to others to find out their whereabouts, but at the same time, they cannot remember the information received; in this regard, they continue to ask similar questions. After restoring memory, the person will not remember the attack itself.

This type of loss of memory is a painful condition during which a person looks confused and scared.

Anterograde amnesia

Anterograde amnesia is caused by trauma or previous illness. The patient cannot reconstruct recent events and display their sequence but accurately and distinctly remember past events. Cases of this type of loss of memory are extremely rare, and the prognosis is poor.

Causes. The causes of the disease can be craniocerebral trauma, surgical interventions. Moreover, to physical impact, mental disorders (dementia, mental retardation, epilepsy) and psychogenic factors (stress, psychological trauma) can lead to illness.

Symptoms of anterograde amnesia. There is a failure when switching from short-term memory to long-term memory; events are not saved. The patient can remember events that happened several years ago but does not remember whether they had breakfast today or not. The disease can be temporary from two days to six months; most often, it is a reaction to sleeping pills and sedatives.

Treatment. The first stage of treatment for loss of memory is carried out in a hospital. It is required to eliminate the symptoms of the underlying disease that led to a loss of memory. Nootropics, drugs to improve cholinergic conduction, are prescribed. Neuropsychological correction is being carried out. In some cases, the brain is exposed to a low-intensity current. With atrophic and degenerative changes in the brain, memory damage can be irreversible.

Prevention. Appropriate psychological support for the elderly, which will help to accept the situation and adapt to it. At the initial stages of memory damage, correctly selected pharmacotherapy and psychological correction are essential.

Which doctor treats amnesia?

Which doctor treats amnesia

You should consult a neurologist in case of a sudden loss of memory, confusion, disorientation, head trauma, and other similar symptoms. Most often, this specialist deals with the treatment of loss of memory.

Besides to a neurologist, the help of specialists such as a narcologist, traumatologist, infectious disease specialist, and neurosurgeon may be required.

Amnesia is a symptom in the event of which a person’s relatives or a person, if possible, need to make an appointment with a neurologist. Depending on the type, specialists will determine the causes of its occurrence and treatment tactics and rehabilitation measures.

A neurologist’s consultation will help you decide on further actions to restore the patient’s memory. Moreover, a neurologist, if necessary, will refer a person to a narcologist, traumatologist, infectious disease specialist, and neurosurgeon.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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