Dissociative Amnesia Disorder: Symptoms, Treatments, and More
Dissociative Amnesia Disorder is a condition that causes memory loss. It is often the result of stress or trauma, and doctors diagnose it when they can’t link the amnesia to other causes, such as brain damage or dementia.
People with dissociative amnesia may have trouble remembering information about them. They may not remember their name, where they live and who they are, among other details.
Usually periods of amnesia come suddenly, and they can last for hours, days or, in rare cases, weeks.
According to American Psychiatric Association (APA), dissociative amnesia often occurs due to traumatic or stressful events, such as childhood trauma, abuse, and neglect. Dissociative amnesia can also come from questions relating to personal identity and past experiences.
Read on to learn more about how dissociative amnesia affects people, the different types of amnesia, the treatments available, and the outlook for people with this condition.
These attacks of amnesia are extensive and go beyond the realm of normal forgetfulness. Information that people forget is often sensitive or
People with dissociative amnesia disorder may experience different types of amnesia. According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), people with this disorder may experience different types amnesia: localized, selective, continuous, systematized, generalized and dissociative fugue.
Localized amnesia means that someone cannot remember a specific event or series of events, which creates a void in their memory.
These memory lapses are often linked to stress or trauma. For example, someone who was abused as a child may forget all this time. Those with localized amnesia often have more than one episode of memory loss.
Selective amnesia involves losing only part of the memory of a certain period. For example, it might mean forgetting parts of a traumatic event, but not all.
A person can suffer from selective and localized amnesia.
In this type of amnesia, a person forgets about each new event as it occurs. A certain traumatic event can trigger this continuous forgetfulness.
Systematic amnesia is memory loss related to a specific category or individual. For example, someone may forget all of their memories of a particular person.
This rare form of amnesia occurs when an individual completely forgets their own identity and life experiences. They may forget who they are, who they talked to, where they went, what they did and how they felt.
Some people with generalized amnesia may lose previously well-established skills.
This form of amnesia often occurs in survivors of sexual assault, veterans, and those under extreme stress or conflict.
Dissociative fugue sometimes occurs in people with dissociative amnesia disorder. It is severe and rare, affecting only
It usually manifests as a sudden and unexpected trip away from a person’s home. A person with dissociative fugue may wander in bewildered and confused ways. They may also have memory loss and an inability to recognize people they know.
While running away, people seem to act relatively normally. However, once that ends, they suddenly find themselves in a strange new situation. For example, in some cases a person will start a new job, assume a new identity, and essentially start a new life. Ending the runaway may leave them feeling ashamed, depressed, or grieved.
the main symptom dissociative amnesia is memory loss that is more extensive than normal forgetfulness. People with dissociative amnesia forget crucial personal information. Amnesic episodes can last several minutes or several months.
Those who have recently suffered from amnesia may feel confused or depressed.
A traumatic event or stressor usually causes dissociative amnesia. Trauma is usually something the person experienced as a child, such as sexual abuse or emotional neglect.
People can also develop dissociative amnesia following a natural disaster, sexual assault or military combat.
There is no average age of onset. People can experience several episodes of dissociative amnesia throughout their life.
Those who have suffered physical or sexual abuse during childhood have an increased risk of dissociative amnesia. Most significant risk factor for dissociative amnesia is exposure to an overwhelming traumatic experience, once or continuously.
According to John hopkinsSome researchers believe the condition is more common in sexual assault survivors and veterans. Others believe it primarily affects vulnerable people with other pre-existing mental health issues.
While research has not revealed what exactly causes dissociative amnesia, it is clear that the disorder has a relationship to trauma.
Doctors diagnose dissociative amnesia depending on whether or not an individual meets the criteria set out in the DSM-5. The criteria are:
- A person cannot remember important personal or family information.
- A person’s symptoms cause distress.
- A person’s symptoms prevent them from functioning normally in a social environment.
A doctor will also perform a medical and physical exam to rule out other potential causes.
They may use MRIs to look for structural causes, blood and urine tests to analyze toxic causes, and an electroencephalogram (EEG) to rule out a seizure disorder.
They will also be ensure that a person’s symptoms are not due to a drug or a psychiatric disorder.
Treatment for dissociative amnesia depends on the severity of a person’s memory loss. If the memory loss lasts for a short period of time, supportive therapy is usually the first line of treatment.
People with more severe memory loss need more care, including a safe and supportive environment that helps them naturally recover lost memories.
In case of failure, a person may suffer hypnosis. Doctors use hypnosis with caution because retrieving these memories can also lead to memories of a traumatic situation.
There is currently no known way to prevent dissociative amnesia.
However, if the person receives treatment as soon as symptoms appear, it can limit future episodes of amnesia. Intervening immediately after the traumatic event can also reduce the likelihood of developing these disorders.
The outlook for people with dissociative amnesia is good. If a person is no longer in a stressful or traumatic situation, treatment can help them regain lost memories.
Whether or not someone’s memories come back depends on their stress level, the conflicts associated with their trauma, and their overall mental adjustment. Timely treatment can dramatically improve a person’s outlook.
Dissociative amnesia is a disorder causing episodes of amnesia that causes a person to forget important personal information, including, in severe cases, their identity.
This is often the result of extreme stress, childhood abuse, or some other traumatic experience.
Doctors use extensive clinical and physical evaluations to diagnose dissociative amnesia and rule out other conditions that may be causing a person’s symptoms.
Treatment is about creating a safe and comfortable space that will allow memories to come back. In some cases, doctors recommend hypnosis and psychotherapy.
Most people with dissociative amnesia recover their memories after their amnesia resolves.