Anterograde amnesia is amnesia that makes it difficult for a person to retain new memories. This occurs after experiencing certain triggering events. This amnesia can be temporary or permanent.

Amnesia or memory loss is mainly divided into two types. Retrograde amnesia and anterograde amnesia. In retrograde amnesia, a person becomes unable to recall past events or previous information. Meanwhile, in anterograde amnesia, the sufferer becomes difficult or unable to store new memories. This article will specifically discuss anterograde amnesia and its possible causes.

Learn more about anterograde amnesia

Anterograde amnesia is a condition that makes it difficult or impossible for a person to retain new memories after experiencing certain triggering events. For example, suppose a person has a brain injury on January 1 at 7 am. He will then have difficulty or inability to recall memories or events that occurred after that hour – as if his memory stopped on January 1 at 7 am.

Anterograde amnesia can be temporary or it may be permanent. Cases of transient anterograde amnesia, for example, can occur when a person experiences blackouts due to alcohol consumption. After the effects of alcohol wear off, he will again be able to store and remember new memories.

Anterograde amnesia is different from retrograde amnesia. If retrograde amnesia makes a person unable to remember events in the past, then anterograde amnesia causes the inability to store and recall new memories after the triggering event.

Symptoms of anterograde amnesia

Symptoms of anterograde amnesia can primarily affect short-term memory storage. However, this condition can still trigger confusion and frustration in people who experience it.

A person with anterograde amnesia may forget the following “simple” things:

  • The name of the person you just met
  • The phone number he just received
  • Type of food recently consumed
  • Famous people’s names
  • Changes in life events, such as job changes

Memories that cannot be stored in anterograde amnesia can be total or partial, with varying severity in each patient.

What are the causes and risk factors for anterograde amnesia?

There are several possible causes of anterograde amnesia – all of which are related to trauma or stress to the brain. Factors that may increase your risk of developing anterograde amnesia include:

1. Use of drug

Short-term anterograde amnesia may result from the use of certain medications, including benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are associated with anterograde amnesia, along with the use of non-benzodiazepine sedatives such as zolpidem.

2. Traumatic brain injury

Damage to the part of the brain called the hippocampus or the area around it is associated with anterograde amnesia. Concussions or sports injuries are also at risk of triggering this amnesia.

3. Brain inflammation and stroke

Inflammation of the brain can also increase the risk of anterograde amnesia, including encephalitis. In addition to inflammation in the brain, other diseases that attack the brain such as stroke can also increase the risk of anterograde amnesia.

4. Undergo brain surgery

Patients who have had certain parts of the brain removed are at risk for disorders associated with anterograde amnesia.

5. Memory loss after drinking alcohol

A person who consumes excessive alcohol in a short time can experience memory loss for some time (blackout). However, the memory function of an alcoholic will return to normal when he regains consciousness from his blackout episode.

6. Chronic alcoholism

In addition to occurring during blackout episodes, individuals who are chronically addicted to alcohol may develop thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency. Vitamin B1 deficiency can lead to Korsakoff’s syndrome – which then also causes significant problems in memory function.

7. Undergoing electroconvulsive therapy

ECT or electroconvulsive therapy is an effective treatment for depression. However, this therapy can trigger side effects in the form of anterograde amnesia. Anterograde amnesia as a side effect of ECT has been reported to be transient or short-term.

Can amnesia be cured?

Until now, there is no medication or treatment that can cure amnesia. The treatment strategy of the doctor will concentrate on the management of the patient’s condition.

The condition management strategy options for anterograde amnesia may include:

  • Administration of vitamin B1 supplements if the patient is deficient
  • Occupational therapy to help patients carry out basic activities of daily living
  • Memory training
  • Technological interventions, such as the use of reminder apps

Although in some cases anterograde amnesia is temporary, some patients may experience permanent memory loss with worsening symptoms. If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of memory loss, especially if the cause cannot be explained, you are advised to immediately consult a doctor.