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Dementia vs Amnesia: What is the Difference?

dementia vs amnesia

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Memory loss is, of course, a hallmark sign of dementia. On the other hand, amnesia is memory loss without other cognitive problems, which should be separated from dementia. As a result, the “difference between dementia and memory loss” might be rephrased as “difference between dementia and amnesia” in medical terms.

Although both dementia and amnesia are disorders of the brain, they are not the same. Amnesia primarily affects memory, but dementia affects all higher brain processes. This article will go over the distinctions between amnesia and dementia and their clinical characteristics, symptoms, causes, and treatment/care requirements.


Amnesia is a neurological disorder that impairs your capacity to recall specific memories, both declarative and non-declarative. As a result, the patient briefly loses memory, and the brain ceases to get the information required to function correctly.

The transmission of electrical impulses between neurons is likewise disturbed when looking at the surface. The ensuing damage may affect your memory or cause severe anterograde and retrograde memory deficits. Anterograde amnesia causes people to lose track of events. For example, they might have trouble recalling a specific location or time.

Most individuals with amnesia are conscious and aware of their surroundings. They may have complete recollections up to a specific point in time but have trouble recalling things after that. They may also lose memories until a certain point in time. Memory loss is more typically fragmented, with a person losing recollections of specific events.

Some persons with amnesia have trouble picturing the future. This is due to the fact that the human brain creates future events based on memories of prior experiences.

There are two different kinds of amnesia: anterograde, which makes it difficult to acquire knowledge and skills, and retrograde, which makes it challenging to recall prior events and information.

Amnesia is characterized by the loss of recent memories, confabulation (the appearance of false recollections), disorientation, and the preservation of distant memories. It has no significant impact on relationships or behavior, although it does produce isolated memory loss.

The more prevalent of the two is anterograde amnesia. Total or global amnesia occurs when these two forms of amnesia happen simultaneously. Another kind of amnesia is post-traumatic amnesia, which is characterized by disorientation and memory loss following a severe brain injury. Finally, psychogenic amnesia is amnesia caused by psychological causes.

Many amnesias are linked to an injury to the hippocampus and other brain structures involved in memory encoding, storage, and retrieval. For example, the brain would be unable to develop new memories or recover certain old ones if information travels through blocked channels between memory formation or retrieving processes or if entire brain parts are absent or destroyed.

What Causes Amnesia?

What Causes Amnesia

Amnesia is frequently linked to traumatic events like vehicle accidents or abuse. However, Amnesia can also be caused by a variety of factors such as neurological problems, vitamin shortage, medicines, or emotional stress. Infection, brain damage, and stroke are the three most prevalent causes of amnesia.

Other potential explanations include reduced blood supply to the brain owing to external factors or brain underdevelopment during the prenatal stage.

A serious case of viral encephalitis is the most prevalent cause of Amnesia. The hippocampus region of the brain may be affected. For a few seconds, a person is unable to recall any knowledge, although their non-declarative memory is unaffected.

Fortunately, based on the intensity of the infection, memory might restore after several hours, a day, or a year.

Symptoms Of Amnesia

Symptoms Of Amnesia

Amnesia symptoms differ depending on the type of amnesia. It might be frightening, and that can make you feel lonely and resentful. However, having family and friends who understand what is happening might make it less stressful.

Drowsiness, headaches, and nausea are common symptoms of some kinds of amnesia. A brain abnormality might be one of the several indications of amnesia. Some types of amnesia might result in a loss of awareness, which isn’t always obvious. Most cases of amnesia may be reversed, which is fortunate. A loss of recollections could be the sole symptom that persists after healing.

Amnesia Treatment

In many situations, amnesia goes away on its own. However, if an underlying medical or mental condition is present, treatment for that disorder may be required.

Some patients with amnesia may benefit from psychotherapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Hypnosis is a powerful tool for retrieving long-forgotten memories. Working on memory retrieval and addressing psychological factors that may have led to forgetfulness are critical components of any amnesia treatment regimen.

Meditation and other mindfulness practices can assist a person calm their mind, which can aid memory retrieval.

Family support is important. Showing the person photos from prior events, reintroducing them to similar scents, and playing recognizable music might all assist.

There are presently no medications that can restore memory that has been lost as a result of amnesia. The underlying reasons, on the other hand, can be treated.


Dementia is a broad term that refers to cognition changes that become severe enough to impact independence with performance of daily tasks including Alzheimer’s disease which is the common type The illnesses that fall under the general term “dementia” are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes result in a decline in mental capacities, also known as cognitive capabilities, that really is severe enough to affect daily life and independence. 

They influence behavior, emotions, and relationships as well. Alzheimer’s disease affects 60-80% of people. Vascular dementia is the second most common kind of dementia, and it is induced by the microscopic brain hemorrhage and blood vessel occlusion. Mixed dementia occurs when different varieties of dementia manifest themselves in the same person’s brain at the same time.

Many other conditions, even curable ones like thyroid problems and vitamin deficiencies, can cause dementia symptoms. Dementia is frequently incorrectly referred to as “senile dementia,” indicating the incorrect belief that significant mental impairment is a normal part of aging.

What Causes Dementia?

What Causes Dementia

Damage to the brain cells causes dementia. This lesion compromises the ability of brain cells to communicate with one another. Thinking, behavior, and feelings can all be altered if brain cells can’t interact properly.

Each part of the brain is in charge of a distinct function. When cells in a specific location are harmed, they are unable to execute their normal functions.

Different kinds of dementia are linked to various types of brain cell destruction in different brain areas. In Alzheimer’s disease, for example, high levels of particular proteins both in and out of brain cells make it harder for the cells to monitor their health and interact with one another.

The hippocampus is the brain’s learning and memory center, and its brain cells are typically lost first. As a result, memory loss is one of the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

Symptoms of Dementia

Symptoms of Dementia

Dementia symptoms can vary in severity, but most are clearly identifiable. The most visible indication of dementia is the decline in cognitive function. Memory impairments, indifference, and behavioral changes are also signs of dementia. This condition may benefit from cognition-enhancing drugs.

Patients with dementia are frequently unable to control their emotions. Because it affects a portion of the brain that controls direction, understanding, language, judgment, and personality, they require more assistance with daily tasks. Furthermore, people may begin to act differently, with frequent mood swings.

It can also affect memory; seniors with dementia may have trouble recalling particular words or understanding what others are saying. In addition, they may have difficulty recognizing familiar things and recognizing their surroundings.

Dementia Treatment

The etiology determines dementia treatment. Although most progressive types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, have no cure, aducanumab is the first medication to indicate that eliminating amyloid, one of the illness’s hallmarks, from the brain can reduce cognitive and functional impairment in persons with early Alzheimer’s.

Others can aid Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers in improving people’s lives by temporarily delaying the onset of dementia symptoms. Medicines used to treat Alzheimer’s disease symptoms are being used to deal with the symptoms of certain other dementias. Some dementia symptoms can potentially be helped with non-drug therapies.

Difference Between Amnesia and Dementia

Difference Between Amnesia Vs Dementia

Dementia and amnesia are two separate mental disorders that have similar symptoms. And it’s because of this that it’s tough to diagnose. These are not the same, despite having a similar symptom. There are some differences between the two.

Amnesia and Dementia must be diagnosed in order for the patient to receive correct care. Even if both dementia and amnesia induce memory loss, they are two distinct illnesses with distinct therapies.

The first one is a treatable disorder that results from brain damage. The illness can lead to major problems if it is not diagnosed and treated quickly. Patients have problems remembering events from the past and acquiring new knowledge. They can, nevertheless, recall fundamental abilities.

The second is a permanent condition Dementia is a brain disease that causes progressive memory loss. Both current and distant memories are affected by the disorder. The patient’s memory or capacity to transmit knowledge may be affected in some situations.

It can, however, cause a patient’s social and vocational abilities to deteriorate, as well as difficulty recognizing individuals and personality changes.

Wrap Up

Dementia and amnesia are frequently confused, and many people believe they are the same thing. Though both share memory loss as a common symptom, the causes, impact, problems, diagnosis, and treatment procedures for both are distinct. Amnesia is a manifestation of dementia that encompasses different forms of memory loss. Dementia, on the other hand, is a considerably broader modification in the brain’s functioning, involving alterations in various cognitive regions that extend beyond memory capacities.


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