September 24, 2009

Retrograde and Anterograde Amnesia Symptoms and Treatments

Posted in Category : Common Ailments

Amnesia is a common plot device in numerous films, but the truth is that it is not understood very well, and is often depicted rather misleadingly. To put it simply, amnesia is memory loss as a result of physical trauma to the brain, psychological trauma, disease, or certain drugs. There are numerous types of amnesia and numerous ways of categorizing the condition too – based on the causes, based on the type of memory affected, based on how long the condition lasts, and so on. Retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia are two of the more drastic types of amnesia. Retrograde amnesia involves the loss of memories that were created before the condition developed. Anterograde amnesia involves an inability to form new memories after the condition developed.

Both conditions are of course very serious, and tend to drastically disrupt the life of the patient, making it extremely difficult to function normally. With retrograde amnesia, certain types of memories may be completely inaccessible – the patient may be unable to recognize certain people and will have no memory of them, he or she may also lose important skills, such as typing. In some cases, the patient may be unable to recognize certain objects too, and may even be unaware of their own identity. This is not as common as it is made out to be, but it does happen.

With anterograde amnesia, the patient is unable to form new memories – he or she may be unable to learn new skills, may be unable to remember things they did, heard, or saw earlier in the day, and so on. While this may seem less terrible than losing one’s sense of identity and memories of relationships, it is nonetheless quite traumatic, as it hampers some of the simplest day to day tasks. In addition, both retrograde and anterograde amnesia can sometimes affect the same individual, and this is probably the most difficult to deal with.

Treatment of both retrograde and anterograde amnesia is of course complex and cannot be generalized. The condition must be investigated from all angles, and treatment must be approached in the same manner. As far as home remedies go, the most important thing is support and patience from friends and family. Amnesia is in itself traumatic to the patient, and it is important to avoid any additional and unnecessary stress. In case of retrograde amnesia, proximity to once-familiar objects and people may help, although these should not be forced upon the patient.