Amnesia causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Aditya Govindavarjhulla, M.B.B.S. [2]


Common causes of amnesia include medications, head trauma, depression and aging.


Common Causes

  • Side effects of medication: Many drugs can cause cognitive problems and memory loss as a side effect. Common drugs that affect memory and brain function include sleeping pills, antihistamines, blood pressure and arthritis medication, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and painkillers.
  • Depression: Depression mimics the signs of memory loss. It is a common problem in older adults—especially if one is less social and active than they used to be or if one has recently experienced a number of major life changes (retirement, a serious medical diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, moving away from home).
  • Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Vitamin B12 protects neurons and is vital to healthy brain functioning. A lack of B12 can cause permanent damage to the brain.
  • Trauma: This is the most common cause of preventable memory loss.

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Cardiac arrest, Heart bypass surgery
Chemical / poisoning Aluminium poisoning, Barbiturate abuse, Bromoform, Cannabis, Hobo spider poisoning, Mercury poisoning , Stachybotrys chartarum, Toluene, Neurotoxicity syndromes
Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect Anagrelide, Anisotropine Methylbromide,Aripiprazole, Atenolol, Atorvastatin, Benztropine, Carbon monoxide poisoning, Chemotherapy, Cidofovir, Diazepam, Dicyclomine, Flecainide, Fluvastatin, Lamotrigine, Levetiracetam, Lovastatin, Mepenzolate

Methocarbamol, Metoprolol, Midazolam [1], Modafinil, Nefazodone, Oxcarbazepine, Pergolide, Phenelzine, Pindolol,Pramipexole, Pravastatin, Propranolol, Rifaximin, Ropinirole, Rosuvastatin, Secobarbital sodium, Selegiline, Sertraline, Scopolamine, Simvastatin, Suvorexant, Temozolomide, Thalidomide, Trazodone, Valium, Zaleplon, Zolmitriptan, Zolpidem,

Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism
Environmental Anoxia, Frostbite, Heat stroke, Hypoxia
Gastroenterologic No underlying causes
Genetic Citrullinemia [2], Down Syndrome, Graeck-Imerslund disease
Hematologic Bone marrow transplant
Iatrogenic Bilateral temporal lobectomy, Brain radiation, Electroconvulsive therapy
Infectious Disease AIDS Dementia Complex, Cryptococcal Meningitis, Encephalitis

, Herpes simplex encephalitis, HIV, Human T-lymphotropic virus, Lyme disease, Neurosyphillis

Musculoskeletal / Ortho No underlying causes
Neurologic Achromatopsia [3], Alzheimer's disease, Corticobasal Degeneration, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Encephalitis, Frontotemporal dementia, Hydrocephalus, Huntington's disease, Intractible epilepsy, Myelinopathies, Multiple sclerosis, Normal pressure hydrocephalus, Olivopontocerebellar Atrophy, Parkinson's disease, Pick's disease of the brain, Progressive supranuclear palsy, Right parietal lobe syndrome, Space occupying lesion, Subacute Sclerosing Panencephalitis, Transient global amnesia, Vertebrobasilar disease, Multi infarct dementia, Human T-lymphotropic virus, Neurosyphillis, Hypothalamus tumor, Tumors of the third ventricle, Dialysis encephalopathy syndrome, Neurosarcoidosis, Sneddon Syndrome, Arteriovenous Malformation, Cerebrovascular accident, Multi infarct dementia, Subarachnoid hemorrhage, Transient ischemic attack
Nutritional / Metabolic Vitamin B12 deficiecny, Dementia, Depression, Hyperthermia, Hypothermia, Hypoxia, Malabsorption, Megaloblastic Anemia , Nutritional deficiency, Pellagra, Thiamine deficiency, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
Obstetric/Gynecologic Menopause
Oncologic Brain cancer, Hypothalamus tumor, Malignant astrocytoma, Malignant germ cell tumor, Tumors of the third ventricle
Opthalmologic Achromatopsia
Overdose / Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric Amnestic disorder, Bipolar disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Conversion disorder, Fugue states, Schizophrenia|-
Pulmonary Hypoxia
Renal / Electrolyte Dialysis encephalopathy syndrome, Hypercalcemia
Rheum / Immune / Allergy Behcet's Disease, Neurosarcoidosis, Sneddon Syndrome
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma Brain concussion, Head injury, Whiplash
Urologic No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Miscellaneous Alcoholism, Malingering, Stress

Causes in Alphabetical Order


  1. Nadin G, Coulthard P (1997). "Memory and midazolam conscious sedation". Br Dent J. 183 (11–12): 399–407. PMID 9447768.
  3. Ogden JA (1993). "Visual object agnosia, prosopagnosia, achromatopsia, loss of visual imagery, and autobiographical amnesia following recovery from cortical blindness: case M.H". Neuropsychologia. 31 (6): 571–89. PMID 8341415. Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)