Are you experiencing loss of sensation, confusion, or hallucinations?
You may be experiencing amnesia depending on the severity of your symptoms.
According to public health data in Los Angeles County, California, there are close to 150,000 residents suffering from Alzheimer’s. Amnesia is one of the most well-known symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Researchers report this number is expected to double in the next decade. That means around 300,000 people suffering from a memory loss disorder. And that is just in LA County.
Before we discuss causes, it is important to establish a good definition of amnesia.
Let’s take a closer look.
What is Amnesia?
Amnesia is a form of memory loss that can be temporary or permanent. There are many reasons for amnesia, including stress, a trauma to the brain and psychological disorders.
Amnesia is like a big umbrella. Under the umbrella are three types of amnesia: retrograde, anterograde and global.
Retrograde amnesia is when you cannot remember anything before the time of the event that caused you to lose your memory. Anterograde amnesia is the inability to create new memories.
Global amnesia tends to be more temporary and can happen because of extreme emotional or physical distress.
Incidents that can cause amnesia include brain inflammation, lack of oxygen to the brain, substance abuse, tumors and emotional traumas. These are just a few of the ways the limbic system in the brain can be damaged and lead to amnesia.
1. Brain inflammation
Brain inflammation is caused by bacterial or viral infection and may be the result of an immune system disorder.
While severe cases may be life-threatening, mild cases may cause flu-like symptoms. If you experience confusion, hallucinations, loss of sensation, or seizures, seek immediate medical attention.
You can address brain inflammation with antiviral drugs, anticonvulsants, and supportive care.
2. Lack of adequate oxygen
The brain needs oxygen to function properly. If your body suffers a problem such as a heart attack, stroke, respiratory distress or carbon monoxide poisoning, your brain is not getting the oxygen it needs.
Abusing substances, illegal or prescribed, can lead to respiratory suppression and a lack of oxygen reaching the brain. Not to mention, abusing substances can lead to a loss of consciousness, overdose or death.
A lack of oxygen to the brain is called brain hypoxia. Symptoms can appear as the inability to make decisions and focus, along with memory loss.
One way to get good oxygen to the brain through breathing is called the Buteyko method. This breathing technique is a form of physical therapy that helps those suffering from asthma and other respiratory diseases.
This method teaches you how to get the most oxygen to your brain and body so they can function properly.
3. Long-term alcohol abuse
It has been proven that alcohol can impair the brain. Specifically, the hippocampus region of the brain that deals with memories. Alcohol can significantly impair the brain from creating new long-term memories.
When you drink alcohol over an extended period, it can rob you of thiamine or vitamin b-1. Thiamine is necessary for the brain to function properly.
Your brain and body do not create thiamine. Instead, it is acquired through the food and drinks you ingest throughout your day. If you are mostly ingesting alcohol, your body will stop performing as it should.
One serious effect of a lack of this vitamin is its contribution to amnesia. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is the medical term for this disability that makes it hard to make new memories.
Having a healthy diet that includes foods rich in the vitamin thiamine, and avoiding alcohol, is the best way to fight this disorder.
The American Brain Tumor Association reports that memory loss in patients with brain tumors can be caused by the tumor itself. They also claim the surgery or radiation to remove the tumor can lead to amnesia.
Location and size of a tumor in the brain will determine what you will experience. Side effects can range from headaches to speech problems to complete memory loss.
The hippocampus is one of the main memory parts of the brain. If the hippocampus is not working due to a tumor, your memory is not working.
Do what you can to avoid fatigue, which can make it even harder on the brain to recall information.
5. Emotional Trauma
Dissociative amnesia, formerly known as psychogenic amnesia, is directly connected to emotional trauma and stress.
Your brain will find a way to cope with a traumatic event. Sometimes that means a mental separation from the trauma. To do this, the brain separates from memories.
Traumatic events can include combat action in war, sexual or physical abuse, surviving a natural disaster or even the loss of a loved one. Some people have memory gaps where they can remember partial information.
Other people lose their memory for months or even years. Some people block out only the traumatic event while others forget names, places, and other basic information.
Treatments for Amnesia
Psychotherapy is recommended as a beneficial treatment for dissociative amnesia. Using techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy can help you understand and cope with this type of memory loss.
Other treatments include neurofeedback, hypnosis, energy psychology, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. All these treatments offer advantages in the treatment of memory recovery.
Getting treatment for medical conditions that may be connected to memory loss is another avenue to explore. Prevention is key. While you cannot prevent things that are out of your control, like accidents or injuries, there are steps you can take.
The better you care for yourself, the less likely you will have health problems that can cause amnesia. Eating right, exercising and doing what it takes to have positive mental health can assist you in preserving your memory.
To learn more about memory loss and amnesia, contact a local mental health professional. They can help you find the right treatment for you.