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What is Amnestic Disorder?
Amnestic disorders are the disorders related to Memory and memory loss. It derives its name from Amnesia which means partial memory loss.
There are a number of terms that are crucial to the understanding of amnestic disorders. In order to retain information, an individual must be able to pay close enough attention to the information that is presented; this is referred to as registration. The process whereby memories are established is referred to as encoding or storage. Retaining information in the long-term memory requires passage of time during which memory is consolidated. When an individual's memory is tested, retrieval is the process whereby the individual recalls the information from memory. Working memory is the ability to manipulate information from short-term memory in order to perform some function. Amnestic disorders may affect any or all of these necessary steps.
Causes of Amnestic Disorders
There are numerous causes of Amnestic Disorders which ranges from trauma to other mental disorder. A number of brain disorders can result in amnestic disorders, including following:
- Various types of dementia (such as Alzheimer's disease ),
- Traumatic brain injury (such as concussion),
- Accidents that involve oxygen deprivation to the brain or interruption of blood flow to the brain (such as ruptured aneurysms )
- Tumors in the thalamus and/or hypothalamus
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (a sequelae of thiamine deficiency usually due to severe alcoholism),
- Cerebrovascular disease (disease affecting the blood vessels in the brain)
Psychological disorders can also cause a type of amnesia called "psychogenic amnesia.
Symptoms of Amnestic Disorders
The main symptom of amnestic disorder is the ability to remember things and recall them at the right time. Symptoms of amnestic disorders may include following:
- Difficulty recalling remote events or information
- Difficulty learning and then recalling new information.
- The patient in some cases is fully aware of the memory impairment, and frustrated by it;
- In some other cases, the patient may seem completely oblivious to the memory impairment or may even attempt to fill in the deficit in memory with confabulation.
- Depending on the underlying condition responsible for the amnesia, a number of other symptoms may be present as well.
Treatment of Amnestic Disorders
Since the causes of Amnestic Disorder is the other varied brain conditions and injuries, in some cases, treatment of the underlying disorder may help improve the accompanying amnesia.
There are no treatments that have been proved effective in most cases of amnestic disorder, as of 2002. Many patients recover slowly over time, and sometimes recover memories that were formed before the onset of the amnestic disorder.
- There are some other treatment options avalilable for mild cases of amnesia such as rehabilitation which may involve teaching memory techniques and encouraging the use of memory tools, such as association techniques, lists, notes, calendars, timers, etc.
- Memory exercises may be helpful.
- Recent treatments for Alzheimer's disease and other dementias have involved medications that interfere with the metabolism of the brain chemical (neurotransmitter) called acetylcholine, thus increasing the available quantity of acetylcholine.
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