Amnesia is a mental condition that affects one’s memory. It can be caused by a number of things, but the most common reasons one might experience amnesia is from a physical injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or when any form of damage occurs to the brain.
There are two types of amnesia: anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia. Anterograde amnesia includes the inability to remember or memorize new events or data. It focuses more on short-term memory, and one with anterograde amnesia generally keeps their long-term memory intact. Retrograde amnesia is when someone is unable to recall past, long-term memories. They may, for example, forget their childhood after a traumatic car accident that causes damage to the brain. Both can be temporary or permanent, and should be monitored by doctors.
Within these two forms of amnesia are numerous other types and causes. Amnesia may be caused by a physical injury, or may be caused by a psychological disorder. For example, someone dealing with post-traumatic stress may experience dissociative amnesia, which includes repressed memories. Someone may experience forgetfulness and loss of memory of a specific event or time in their life, and this is called lacunar amnesia. Childhood amnesia, otherwise known as infantile amnesia, typically involves childhood memories and the inability to recall events from one’s younger years.
There is also the “blackout phenomenon” in which one falls into an amnesic state after excessive alcohol use, and there is also amnesia that can be caused by drugs. Drug-induced amnesia is more of an intentional cause of amnesia where amnesiac drugs are injected into a patient that is undergoing certain medical procedures or surgery, and are given to help the patient forget certain traumatic experiences that cannot be performed under general or full anesthesia.
Whether short-term or long-term, dealing with amnesia can be frustrating for those experiencing it. Medical attention is necessary in dealing with and understanding amnesia to its fullest.