Amnesia is defined as loss of memory or the inability to recall past experiences of which there are 2 types. First is anterograde amnesia where an individual is unable to form new memories. The other one is retrograde amnesia defined as loss of memory of the events that happened before the memory loss began. Oftentimes, amnesiphobia develops when one experiences episodic amnesia. He or she might have forgotten a significant event or period in one’s life leading to the development of phobia or anxiety.
Amnesiphobia is now also commonly related to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and this diagnosis should not be disregarded in persons who experience frequent or episodic memory loss. Those at greatest risk of developing this are people who are considered “high strung”.
Symptoms include dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, sweating, nausea, numbness. They may also feel a feeling of uncontrollable anxiety and are unable to function because of the anxiety and fear, which are often exaggerated and unreasonable. Amnesiphobics usually have anticipatory anxiety, overwhelming fear and terror, or a desire to flee.
Most people with this phobia seek help because they feel paralyzed, thus a diagnosis is made.
Medical treatment is not encouraged in amnesiphobia. Behavior and cognitive therapy is encouraged instead so that a person is guided to overcome anxiety and the feeling of helplessness.