Dissociative Amnesia and Treatment Options

When one thinks of amnesia, you may picture an accident where someone has experienced trauma to their head and can't remember their name or who they are. When it comes to Dissociative Amnesia, there is much more involved. This is a dissociative disorder that is brought on by a traumatic or highly stressful event that causes a person to completely block out their memories. It can lead to loss of memory over extended time periods or it may be they're just blocking out the specific event. Events that can bring on dissociative amnesia include such things as war, accidents, abuse or even natural disasters that someone has witnessed. 

Specific Symptoms

The main symptom that is associated with this type of disorder is the inability to remember events. They may seem depressed or anxious together with a loss of memory.

Getting a Diagnosis

There are several tests your physician will run to make the diagnosis of dissociative amnesia. These include items such as EEG's, blood tests, and neuroimaging scans to rule out any physical ailments that could be causing the amnesia. Once all of these tests are run, if they come back negative for physical signs, your doctor may refer you to a psychologist or therapist to pursue the diagnosis. 

What Can Be Done?

The main goal of therapy for dissociative amnesia is to relieve the symptoms. Sometimes those suffering from this can have problem behaviors arise. Working with a therapist can help to alleviate those symptoms and start working on getting your memory back. Therapies include sessions with your family, medication that can assist you, cognitive therapies, and even hypnosis. Therapy using art and music may also be helpful in recovering memories or working through the event that caused the amnesia.

There is help available for this dissociative disorder and you can get your life back. Working with your medical team can help you to get back the memories you've lost and hold on to the new ones to come. 

Goldberg, J. "What is Dissociative Amnesia?" WebMD (Website). (2014).

  • 2 Commentsby Likes|Date
  • I remember we had this discussion in college about dissociative amnesia. As mentioned in the article here, there is no physical cause to the memory loss. IF a person suffers from DA, there is a reason why the brain chose to block that part of the person's memories. Because of traumatic events (witnessing a murder, etc.), the impact may be so great psychologically that the brain initiates its protective mechanism. Thus, given the circumstances of how the person possibly had DA, working with a professional therapist is truly important. The therapist can guide the afflicted person to slowly recover the memories in a way that will not shock the person in the process of recovering the memories back.
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