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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.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerDavid Messenger, MD

Current as ofNovember 14, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.