There are several reasons for what causes memory loss. Medical science often labels both short and long term memory loss under the heading of ‘amnesia,’ which is then defined as complete or partial.
The most common way that any type of amnesia develops is through a head injury. This type of injury can be the result of a car accident or a simple slip and fall at home. Any type of head injury that’s significant should be addressed by a doctor.
A head injury doesn’t have to be severe in order for memory loss to occur. Contrary to some beliefs, even if someone was not rendered unconscious, head injury leading to loss of memory can still happen. In any situation where the heart stops or breathing is interrupted, the potential for memory loss exists.
Not all memory loss is caused by dramatic events – sometimes even a migraine can cause a temporary memory loss, but it’s usually harmless. Alcohol can cause a person to become unable to recall events that took place while drinking.
If someone wakes up after a night of drinking with no memory of the night before, they’ve experienced alcohol-related memory loss. Repeated alcohol-related memory loss can have long consequences on the brain’s ability to remember things because it interferes with the receptors in the brain.
Certain drugs – even those prescribed by a doctor – can cause memory loss. When the body lacks certain vitamins, this can cause an inability to remember. Neurological disorders and diseases can alter the body’s ability to remember (disorders like epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease).
Any type of condition in which the brain gets an infection (such as Encephalitis) can impair the brain’s ability to recall things. Chemotherapy for cancer treatment can cause people to become forgetful and lead to short term memory loss.
An event that is so traumatic to remember and would put the person in great emotional pain can cause memory loss. This is a natural measure the brain utilizes in order to protect someone from dealing with an emotional overload.
The brain will block the memories until the person feels safe enough and capable enough emotionally to handle the disturbing event. Alzheimer’s disease is another condition that can strike at the brain’s ability to recall memories.
Usually long before a diagnosis is made, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s have become too noticeable to ignore. People with this memory loss condition might suddenly start putting things where they don’t belong. Confusion, personality changes and difficulty speaking are other symptoms of this condition.
Memory loss can also occur as a natural part of aging. These are usually lapses in the memory – walking into a room and forgetting the purpose for entering the room. These are little hiccups in the brain that happen for no apparent reason and are not usually health related.