Amnestic Disorder

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Old 25-Jul-2010
Amnestic Disorder

Amnestic disorders are conditions that relate to the formation and retention of memories. A person suffering from amnestic disorders will find it difficult to recall his long term memories. In some cases the person may not be able to form short term memories as a result of which s/he will find learning to be a daunting task. Amnestic disorders are usually a group of memory disorders that relate to forming and retaining memories. It is not necessary that a person is afflicted by all the memory disorders mentioned earlier. A good example of such disorders is the popular movie 50 First Dates. The character of Drew Barrymore, in the movie, is that of a girl who is unable to remember anything, after the day she met with an accident, for longer than 24 hours. Though it might seem a bit farfetched, Dr. Peter Nestor, a specialist of neuroscience at Cambridge University, does believe that such a condition is rare but possible.

Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Of Amnestic Disorder

Before we get scared of these things, let’s take the time out to see the reasons behind this disorder. We will also take a look at the symptoms and the treatment of such a disorder.


There are several things that could lead to an amnestic disorder. One of the chief causes of such disorders is substance abuse. When people consume a narcotic or a mind altering substance in excess, it hampers the brain’s ability to form long term memories. The simplest example of this is passing out after too many drinks, waking up the next morning and not being able to remember the events of the previous night. Another common cause of amnestic disorders is trauma to the brain. This trauma may come in the form of being struck by a heavy object or due to oxygen deprivation to the brain. Dementia and alzheimer's disease can also result in an amnestic disorder. Improper blood flow to the brain as a result of cardio vascular diseases, seizures and tumors can also aid in the development of an amnestic disorder.


The symptoms of an amnestic disorder can be pretty obvious. The very first symptom would be the person’s inability to be able to recall past events. The learning disability resulting from amnestic disorders will show itself when a person finds it difficult to learn and retain new information. In some cases the person is aware of the amnestic disorder and will be frustrated by the inability to remember. In other cases the person, becoming aware of the loss of memory, will try to formulate events and memories that would suit the situation, but they won’t be factual.


There is no medicine or course of treatment that is known to cure amnestic disorders. However, the prognosis for most amnestic disorders is a positive one. Since most cases of an amnestic disorder are results of trauma to the brain resulting from accidents, patients are known to recover fully. There may be cases where the patient may still fail to recall the events during or after the accident, but the long term memory has been known to return over time. In case of an amnestic disorder caused by alcoholism the prognosis is not known to be so good. Amnestic disorders stemming from substance abuse don’t get cured. The severity or the disorder can be brought down using medication but it cannot be cured.

Given the uniqueness and, sometimes, debilitating nature of amnestic disorders, the prudent thing to do would be to seek help if you think you or someone else is suffering from it.

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