Anterograde amnesia is one of the many types of memory loss that take place among those who suffer from this condition. Learn more about the causes, symptoms and treatment methods involved for this condition.
The term ‘amnesia‘, takes root for many other forms of memory loss, that occur due to problems that target the brain, crippling it in a way where it cannot retain information, sometimes old, or new. It is one of many types of amnesia that occur in those who cannot remember new events for more than a couple of minutes.
Those who suffer from a condition of ‘pure’ anterograde amnesia, will be able to still remember past events, but anything that should happen at a given time in the present, is forgotten in a span of a couple of seconds or minutes, and isn’t recorded by one’s long-term memory. If you were to ask him / her what they ate a couple of hours ago, or the directions to a place they’d been to the previous day, you’ll find their expressions blank and confused.
It isn’t an easy condition to live with, especially when dealing with family and friends, and of course colleagues or peers. Even simple details like what day it is or which year is currently running, are foreign to the one suffering from this form of memory loss.
Types of Amnesia
We first try to understand some of the other forms of common memory loss that exist among us.
Transient Global Amnesia: This is a severe case of anterograde amnesia, where patients aren’t able to recollect new memories at all, where older memories are somewhat remembered, but not completely. Although rare, this is a very possible case among people.
Childhood / Infantile Amnesia: This form of memory loss takes place among those who have no strong memories of their childhood. Doctors say that this may be due to the cause of incomplete maturity of the brain during one’s younger days.
Retrograde Amnesia: This kind of memory loss is the complete opposite as that of anterograde, wherein patients remember all events that are new and happening in the present, but cannot remember details of his / her past.
Hysterical / Fugue Amnesia: This form of amnesia takes form when one is put through a traumatic event in his / her life, where the brain cannot handle the devastating effects of this. The person then wakes up one day and has no clue as to who he / she is, including what their name is. He / she has no idea what they look like, since their reflections look alien to them. Sometimes it comes back out of the blue in a couple of days, but in some cases this is permanent. The event that caused such a traumatic effect on the brain is not remembered in its entirety.
Traumatic Amnesia: This comes about when one has been through a car accident, or experienced a hard blow to the head. Memory can come back depending on how severe the brain damage is. In some cases, people can slip into comas and lose their consciousness abruptly.
Blackout Phenomenon: This takes place when one has drunk more than the body can handle. There is no recollection whatsoever of the previous day’s events, where he / she has no idea what took place in previous events before they went on the binge.
Wernike-Korsakoff’s Psychosis: This kind of amnesia is also linked to malnutrition, where the main reason is drinking on a regular basis in heavy doses. This condition gets worse as time lapses, where one ultimately goes numb in his / her toes and fingers, with a lack of coordination as a result of neurological problems.
Anterograde Amnesia Causes
These can take form as a result of many underlying factors, or severe ones, which subject the person to memory loss in varying degrees – either mild or severe in nature. The damage is seen to affect either or more parts of the brain like the basal forebrain, hippocampus, abd diencephalon.
- Tumor formation in the brain.
- Result of strokes.
- Certain drugs can have powerful amnesiac effects on the brain, like midazolam, lorazepam, nimetazepam, flunitrazepam, and triazolam to name a few. These drugs collectively are known as benzodiazepine drugs.
- Lack of oxygen supply to the brain.
- Some people who suffer from celiac disease, experience amnesia-like symptoms.
- The medication ‘ambien‘, can bring about memory loss in some patients.
- Inflammation in the brain (encephalitis).
- Electroshock therapy
- Regular alcohol abuse, leading to thiamine deficiency.
- Bleeding that takes place within the skull and brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage).
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Head injuries caused by traumatic accident.
- Seizure disorders
Anterograde Amnesia Symptoms
The memory loss symptoms that take place can occur suddenly and without warning among those who experience the onset of amnesia, or can occur when one regains consciousness after an accident.
- Loss of memory is partial.
- Memories aren’t remembered on specific dates.
- Not easy remembering faces of close family / friends.
- Feeling confused and out of sorts.
- Difficulty retaining new information.
- Places that one has frequented to, are not familiar anymore.
- Memory loss of the past is absolute.
- Movement is haphazard, sometimes bringing on tremors.
Treatment for Anterograde Amnesia
We now look into the options available for those who suffer from this condition, with memory loss treatment methods.
People who’ve suffered from anterograde amnesia, will have recalled how to use a phone, and how the different applications function. He / she can immediately make a record of events that they need to remember in the future, and keep reminders that can alarm one of stored data on the event date. Even tasks that need to be recorded and remembered, can be fed to these devices to help with chores and important work. Even medications that one needs to take can be kept on alert using these devices as a helping source. Patients can make use of calendars, post-its and event book logs to keep track of social gatherings, meetings, and important dates.
Using Family and Friends for Help
Sit down with family and friends and explain how you will need assistance in remembering certain things, should you forget. They can keep reminders or save you the trouble of referring to your notes, by reminding you on the same day about what you need to get done or do, while you jot it down somewhere before you forget. Hiring an assistant or secretary would be ideal, since they can keep track of everything you need to do without you worrying about events / deadlines / dates.
There are no medications that deal with severe cases of anterograde, but a diet that is rich with brain food, like almonds, sage, cumin, apples and so on, can help boost one’s memory. Cutting out alcohol consumption completely would help patients drastically. Researchers are still finding ways on how to work with the brain when it comes to amnesiacs.
Amnesiacs can seek help from occupational therapists, who can aid you in retaining new information by connecting it to the old, in order to remember and associate it with current happenings. Memory training, which is a form of memory improvement, is a great way to help patients learn how to train their minds to remember information that is currently being received.
Anterograde amnesia is not something that is easy to live with every single day, but with help and support from family and friends, it can easy to deal with in the long run. Patients should make use of the treatment methods mentioned, and should they find medication that can be of any help, then it would serve them well.