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Reasons Why You May Be Losing Your Memory

Updated on January 10, 2013

Memory loss can be devastating to the person who is experiencing it. Memory loss is often called amnesia.

This condition can involve total or partial memory loss. Many people develop memory loss due to many factors. It is not isolated to a particular part of the brain although the memory is stored in different areas of the brain.

More specifically memory is stored in the limbic system of the brain.

Many factors can affect this area of the brain and cause memory loss. Memory loss can be caused by damage to the hippocampus, amygdala, and parts of the medial temporal lobe.

Types of Memory Loss

There are two main types of memory loss. Anterograde amnesia is the first one, and retrograde amnesia is the second one. Anterograde amnesia will include long-term memory loss. This means that the sufferer is not able to associate particular events within their memory bank. This involves the lack of formation of memories in the brain. This means that no new memories can be formed.

Retrograde amnesia involves the loss of earlier events. With retrograde amnesia it becomes so hard for the victim to remember the events that occurred before whatever event that caused the amnesia. In this case, the sufferer cannot form new memories as well or remember events of the past.

With retrograde amnesia the sufferer may lose out and not lose the ability to speak and walk which are learned activities.

Understanding Amnesia

Amnesia is the term for memory loss. It is the loss of long-term memory. It is also the impairment that has the ability to form new memories. Some people may find themselves forgetting a simple piece of information over and over again. This is an example of anterograde memory loss. Memory is stored in the limbic section of the brain. A person with this type of memory loss may find themselves forgetting things that they were just told a moment ago. Amnesia can also appear in spontaneous episodes. Any action that interferes with the limbic section of the brain can cause memory loss; this is called transient global amnesia. Patients who suffer from this type of memory loss have an unclouded sensorium and will appear alert and cooperative.

Anterograde amnesia is the loss of long-term memory. It is the loss of the ability to form new memories and store them in the limbic section of the brain. Patients might find themselves forgetting something that they were just told minutes ago. This is because the data is not successfully transferred to the consciousness and into short-term memory where it is turned into permanent long-term memory.

Retrograde amnesia is the loss of pre-existing memories. Memories from the past cannot be retrieved due to this condition. This is far worse than forgetfulness. The amount of memory loss is dependent upon the severity of the case. A person may be able to memorize new occurrences, but be unable to pull memories from the past. This happens when a person is unable to recall their identity. The occurrence of retrograde amnesia happens on a lower degree then autobiographical memory loss. In some cases retrograde amnesia has occurred in hypoglycemic patients and diabetic patients.

There is also a condition called mixed retrograde in anterograde episodes. An example may be that a person can drive their car and get into an accident and not remember the events prior to the accident which caused the head injury. Nor will they be able to remember the stay in the hospital or conversations that they have with family members while they were recovering from their accident. The removal of the hippocampus can help with epilepsy. The effects of amnesia can last a very long time even after a condition has been cured or passed.

Another form of amnesia is the inability to remember future events. A study in 2006 showed that amnesiac with bilaterally damage to hippocampus lacked three-dimensional consistency. Some say there are possibilities that the hippocampus may bind dissimilar basics. Some sufferers claim that it is difficult for them to recall past events.

With posttraumatic amnesia the patient is unable to recall information. This type of memory loss can last even after a patient is cured from the event. A traumatic head injury can cause this type of amnesia. This type of amnesia is related to the degree of the injury. You will also find an indication of the prognosis for recovery of other functions. Mild trauma may result in nothing more than whiplash when in a car accident.

A repressed memory happens when a person is not able to recall information. This usually occurs because of a stressful or traumatic event like violence, or disaster. The memory is stored in long-term memory when the person is unable to recall what happened. It is repressed because of the psychological defense mechanism. The degree of memory loss will depend upon the degree of the injury. When a person is bound to a traumatic event memory loss can be the result.

Dissociative fugue is caused by a psychological event in comparison to direct damage caused by a head injury. Dissociative fugue is also referred to as organic amnesia. Some of the other indications of Dissociative amnesia usually can be determined from the following:

  • Repressed Memory, which is the inability to recall information. The memory will be stored in long-term memory, but access to it is impaired due to psychological events. This can contrast with anterograde amnesia in that a person can learn new information and there may be some later partial recovery of memory. This occurs when an experience has prevented from being transferred to temporary and pass on to permanent memory.
  • Dissociative Fugue is caused by a psychological event and is usually temporary. An individual with dissociative fugue disorder will be unaware or confused about their identity. Or they may form a new identity with sudden and unexpected travel away from home.
  • Posthypnotic Amnesia occurs when events during hypnosis are not remembered after a session of hypnosis. The failure to remember the events are induced by the person who performs hypnosis.
  • Korsakoffs syndrome is the result of long-term alcoholism and/or malnutrition. This is due to a deficiency of vitamin B1. Other neurological problems are known to be present with this condition along with a combination of amnesia. Korsakoffs syndrome is also known to be connected to: confabulation. With this syndrome a person may be able to remember things like normal but they may have a difficult time trying to remember past events.

Lacunar Amnesia

Lacunar amnesia is the loss of memory of one specific event. Childhood amnesia, which is also known as infantile amnesia, is a common occurrence of one's inability to remember events from their childhood. Transient global amnesia is a medical phenomenon. With this type of amnesia an event can typically be visualized by using a special form of magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Source amnesia is a disorder where someone can recall some information that they cannot recall how they obtained the information in the first place. Memory distrust syndrome is a term invented by psychologists which describes a situation where someone is unable to trust their own memory. Blackout phenomenon can be caused by short-term alcohol consumption.

Kinds of Memory

There are many different kinds of memory. As an example procedural memory and declarative memory are types of memory that can be impaired. There is also episodic memory which affects the temporal lobe and hippocampus. For example, a person may forget that simple task but remember how to eat. If a person is experiencing any type of amnesia, they should consult the advice of their physician to determine what the cause is.

  • Childhood memory loss is the loss of childhood memories.
  • Lacunar amnesia is the specific loss of an event.
  • Dissociative amnesia is the loss of memory due to a psychologically traumatic event.
  • Source amnesia is the loss of memory due to the source of the memory.
  • Prosopagnosia is the inability to remember faces.

The effects of memory loss can be permanent or transient. Even when a sufferer regains some of their memory, they may suffer from psychological after effects. These effects involve the loss of confidence and accurate accountability of the event that were lost. Recently, it was discovered that memory loss can impair imagination. When this occurs, the patient cannot correctly remember past events and they also have a difficult time imagining future events. This impairment involves the hippocampus, which is believed to be the part of the brain that rules the ability to use past memories to envision the future.

The Cardinals of memory loss are governed by a large assortment of circumstances. So these can cause transient or temporary memory loss, while others can cause permanent amnesia. Additionally amnesia may involve the loss of a specific memory or engulf the sufferer’s entire life. Following are the major causes of memory loss:

  • A Head Injury where physical trauma affects the head due to a fall or can be caused by an automobile accident. An automobile accident is a common cause of memory loss. A head injury can result in either retrograde amnesia or anterograde amnesia, or in some cases, both. With a head injury the memory loss can be temporary or permanent.
  • Medication: Medication can cause memory loss. Some methods are included in both prescription and over-the-counter form medication and are usually a side effect of the medication that acts on the central nervous system. This usually affects many neurotransmitter corridors. This is usually restricted to the elderly because they metabolize drugs slower than younger sufferers. The most common categories of medicines which usually are responsible for the lapse in memory are tranquilizers, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, and anesthetics. Drugs like the antihypertensive drugs, anxiolytics and arthritis medications are also responsible for this. It is important to note that it may be possible to reverse the memory loss caused by medications. If the loss of memory is caught early and the medication is withdrawn the effects can be reversed.
  • Alcohol and drug use: Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can cause memory loss, especially through dementia. Alcohol can affect the brain, the same as a drug. It is a depressant. The effect on the central nervous system and metabolites can damage neurons in area of the brain. Drug abuse is another cause for memory loss. Most street drugs that are abused by psychoactive opioids produce an elated high or depressing low by acting on the brain. Therefore, prolonged use of these types of drugs can cause brain damage. Smoking is another area that can cause memory loss. Smoking causes the reduction of oxygen to the brain, which causes memory loss. Additionally, over time the blood becomes saturated with toxic carbon dioxide and other toxins that remove oxygen from the blood. In other words, the brain becomes starved for oxygen while the smoker inhales the toxic chemicals involved in the smoking process.
  • Sleep Deprivation: This is another contributing factor to losing memories. When we sleep the brain works in a way to move short term memory into long-term memory banks. This procedure is very important for managing information to the environment in the brain. Some experts believe that dreams are appearances of the brain and correctly filing away memories involving the subconscious. When we sleep fewer hours then the body experiences fatigue and the absence of suitable rest. This can cause sleep disorders, which is where the term insomniac comes from. Sleep deprivation will interfere with the process of storing information in the memory banks. The fatigue makes it difficult to retrieve stored memory.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: The lack of proteins and healthy fats such as Omega 3 can disrupt the body process to store necessary information in memory banks in the brain. Protein and Omega 3 help to build new connections and protect established ones. Proteins and fats will also help with building blocks of the neurons in the central nervous system. These types of foods are vital in maintaining the reliability of the brain. However there are other factors that are known to cause memory loss within the diet. The lack of by vitamin B1 and B12 are especially known for resulting in memory loss. The lack of vitamin B12 will cause everlasting brain damage. The B vitamin is needed by neurons as a cofactor to various enzymatic synthesis of the brain. The lack of vitamin B12 can also be caused by excessive smoking or drinking. Therefore, nutritional deficiencies can provide to the memory loss that is, experienced by smokers and consistent drinkers.
  • Stress, Depression and Anxiety Disorders: These disorders can affect the concentration and lower mental focus in people, in the event causing your memory loss. All of these circumstances can be brought up by emotional trauma. Major life changes can cause this type of neurotransmitters to malfunction in the brain. When they are correctly accomplished memory loss can be reversed.
  • Dementia: This is the loss of the ability to perform daily activities. It is a progressive disease that deteriorates the brain cells that brain as the cells die out. Dementia can be caused by drug abuse and aging. It is the major cause of memory loss in the elderly as their perceptional functioning declines.
  • Thyroid Problems: The thyroid gland releases determine the rate of the metabolism in the body. This is an extension and elevated by daily activity. Both an overactive and an underactive thyroid gland can cause memory loss. The excessive thyroid hormone is released into the metabolism much too fast. This can cause confusion and with the hyperactivity, can make it hard to maintain mental focus. An overactive thyroid gland can increase the metabolism and make is hard for the limbic system to catch up. An underactive thyroid gland slows down the metabolism and they can cause fatigue, depression, and the ability to concentrate and retrieve memories. Memory loss problems that are caused by the thyroid gland can be treated with medication.
  • Dehydration: This is another major cause of memory loss in the elderly. Especially severe dehydration can cause glucose levels and blood volume problems. These changes in the body can be severe enough to cause confusion and memory loss. Some medications can cause dehydration.
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy: This involves electrical stimulation of particular parts of the brain through the use of the electrodes. It is used to induce convulsions to relieve certain psychiatric and psychological disorders. However, the main complaint from patients is memory loss. Electroconvulsive therapy can cause anterograde and retrograde amnesia. As the brain has a rather intricate electrical circuit, electric shock in therapy will short circuit the brain and cause major changes in the neurochemical communication which may affect the consequences of some disorders. The use of an electroconvulsive pulse varies and therapy has widely conflicting results. But the main complaint from patients who have undergone electroconvulsive therapy is large amounts of memory loss.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases:This disorder can cause the loss of nerve cells. In other words, this causes brain damage. Once this damage reaches the parts of the brain responsible for building memories this may cause amnesia. Some examples of this sort of brain damage are caused from Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease.
  • Amnesia through surgical operation: Certain surgical procedures can also cause amnesia in small doses. Brain surgery is one that is known for causing memory loss. The hippocampus and amygdala are two areas of the brain that are removed to cure epilepsy for a patient that does not respond to other actions, unluckily these parts of the brain also fall under the limbic system, which controls memory in the brain. Memory loss can be recorded after surgery on other parts of the body, especially the heart. As an example amnesia is a known side effect of bypass surgery. This is probably caused by the restriction of oxygen-rich blood from going to the brain during the procedure.
  • Infections of the brain, and Encephalitis: When the brain gets inflamed, this is what is referred to as encephalitis. This inflammation is usually as a result of drug treatments, infections, and in some cases autoimmune diseases. As the brain becomes inflamed racial arrangement is changed because it is structurally unlike a normal brain. This can usually occur as a result of the neuronal transmissions of the brain. The result is blockage of the pathways and the whole region in the brain loses the function due to domineering magnitude caused by the inflammation. Encephalitis will affect the limbic system and cause memory loss. There are other forms of inflammation that causes memory loss in the brain. Some of the common examples include the likes of HIV, TB and even syphilis.


Memory loss is indeed a very disturbing thing in the world today for a lot of people to deal with. When you come to think of it, it is important for you to look into ways of getting to deal with memory loss so that you can be able to handle it in the best and easiest way possible.

Stroke and a reduction in the supply of oxygen to the Brain: A stroke causes the normal flow of blood to the brain to be interrupted. This is usually as a result of a blockage or a leakage in the blood vessels. The nutrient and oxygen continually needed by the brain are broken; this break can cause brain damage. When the limbic system is affected the result is memory loss. A stroke can cause varying degrees of amnesia. One of the ways that a person can experience this memory loss is by remembering the distant past but being unable to remember something that happened just a few hours ago. Another cause of memory loss due to oxygen supply to the brain is during anesthesia complications. A stopped heart or temporarily stopping the breathing can cause memory loss as well. When this occurs the length and extent of the restricted oxygen supply to the brain determine the extent of the loss of brain damage and therefore result in memory loss. The oxygen supply to the brain is essential to maintaining the integrity of the memory banks. When the oxygen supply is cut off for prolonged periods this can cause brain damage and cause memory loss.

Memory loss that affects daily life can be a symptom of a disease that can weaken the brain. Memory loss or forgetfulness can be determined by one of the above factors. Normal aging can cause some memory loss. But, normal aging does not lead to intense memory loss. There are some types of memory loss that can make you forget recent events. But on the whole memory loss is a factor in many diseases, and there are many contributing factors to memory loss. Amnesia is a state of mind where the memory can be partially or wholly lost due to unforeseen circumstances. The above referenced causes should be looked into whenever memory loss occurs.

It is therefore important for you to look into ways of dealing with amnesia and other common causes of memory loss, so that you are able to figure out how to best deal with the situation. So many people have been able to do this with ease, and you too can handle the situation when you get to know the best drugs to use.


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      Biocurious World 

      4 years ago

      Good one..informative


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