Difference Between Dementia and Amnesia

Mental illness or disorders affect the thinking, mood, and behavior of an individual. The day-to-day activities are also affected and several changes in emotions, personality and feelings can be observed.

Dementia vs Amnesia

The main difference between dementia and amnesia is that dementia is a series of symptoms while amnesia is a serious mental sickness. Dementia causes memory loss, affects behavior, relationship, and speech while amnesia causes isolated memory loss.

Dementia vs Amnesia

Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are considered the main causes of dementia. The intelligence and awareness of the patient are affected.

On the other hand, amnesia can be forced or induced due to past events, traumatic stress, or injury to the brain cells.

Comparison Table Between Dementia and Amnesia

Parameters of ComparisonDementiaAmnesia
Cause From neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s Disease or from vascular disorders like infarct dementia, strokes or through other infections that can affect the CNS (Central Nervous System) Due to brain damage of injury like stroke, encephalitis, respiratory distress, subarachnoid hemorrhage, tumor, or other seizure disorders
TypeTwo types – Alzheimer’s type and non-Alzheimer’s type Two types – anterograde amnesia and retrograde amnesia
SymptomsMemory loss, forgetting usual details or recent events, mood change and feeling emotionally low Loss of recent memories, disorientation, confabulation, confusion, and remote memories are spared
Diagnosis After reviewing symptoms, imaging tests like PET, MRI, and CT scans are done and several mental functioning tests are done to identify the issue Symptoms and previous medical history is monitored and assessments are done to determine the extent of loss in memory and imaging scans like MRI, CT or EEG are also done
TreatmentCan be treated but not reversed or completely cured. Medications and drugs like cholinesterase inhibitors and NMDA receptors are prescribed Some symptoms resolve by psychotherapy, hypnosis, digital aids, medications, and a balanced diet can help

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a type of decline in mental functioning that hinders the daily functioning of the individual. Dementia affects the parts of the brain that are involved in decision-making, learning, of memory.

There are two main types of dementia – Alzheimer’s Dementia which includes memory loss as well as other impairments in the functioning of the brain

Non-Alzheimer’s Dementia which can degenerate the frontotemporal lobe and can affect speech and behavior.

Most of the cases of dementia are from the older age groups, but even young people can develop dementia if they had a history of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease,

Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s Disease, or from vascular disorders like infarct dementia, strokes, and other infections.

Dementia can affect distinct regions of the brain that is responsible for a particular function. Dementia can rapidly worsen and cause other complications.

What is Amnesia?

Amnesia causes damage to the brain cells which are responsible for memory processing. The memory loss in amnesia is usually permanent.

The common symptoms of amnesia include loss of recent memories, confabulation (occurrence of false memories), confusion, and remote memories are spared.

The most common reasons are due to brain damage or injury like stroke, encephalitis, respiratory distress, oxygen deprivation, subarachnoid hemorrhage, tumor, other seizure disorders,

or by treatment of other psychiatric diseases which can include Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Though there are two main types of amnesia, there are some other types too like transient global amnesia, traumatic amnesia, Wernicke-Korsakoff’s psychosis, hysterical amnesia, infantile amnesia,

posthypnotic amnesia, prosopamnesia, and many other types. Some cases of amnesia resolve by themselves.

Main Differences Between Dementia and Amnesia

  1. Dementia generally occurs at old age but amnesia can occur in people of any age group.
  2. Dementia affects cognitive power and decision-making ability while amnesia does not affect the cognitive power and decision-making power of the individual.
Difference Between Dementia and Amnesia


Though both have a common symptom that is memory loss, the cause, effects, complications, diagnosis, and treatment procedure for both of the mental conditions are different.

Mental illness and disorders are often ignored and not given enough importance. That helps the condition to rapidly grow and cause other complications.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/0735-7044.101.3.347
  2. https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037/0096-3445.117.1.34
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