Amnesia

Amnesia is memory loss that may be caused by a head injury or stroke, substance abuse, or a severe emotional event, such as combat or a motor vehicle accident. Depending upon the cause, amnesia may be temporary or it may be a permanent condition.

Amnesia can involve complete loss of memory of one or more of the following:

  • Personal identity
  • Events or circumstances
  • A specific period of time
  • An entire lifetime

The cause determines whether the condition comes on slowly or suddenly. Memory problems that come on gradually may be a part of ongoing mental decline (dementia). Total global amnesia is a type of unexplained amnesia that begins suddenly.

Treatment options and results of treatment of amnesia depend on the cause of lost memory.

Last Updated: January 13, 2009

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.