What is Dissociative Amnesia and How to Handle it

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Dissociative amnesia is a disorder which is part of the dissociative disorder group. Dissociative disorders are mental illnesses that involve loss of memory and disruptions of one’s identity, perception, consciousness, and awareness. The symptoms of dissociative disorders can have a negative impact on the person affected. It tampers with not only their general well-being but also their social lives, relationships, careers and even the way they function.

Fact from Celeste Campbell, PsyD: “The sudden intermittent memory loss you describe is not typical of a traumatic brain injury. Memory loss following brain injury is usually for events immediately before or following the incident. Difficulty learning and remembering new information is also common.”


What Causes Dissociative Amnesia

Dissociative amnesia is linked with extreme stress. Traumatic events also cause it such as rape, physical abuse, bad accidents, war and any other traumatic experienced or witnessed. Dissociative disorders could even be genetic since many who are suffering from it also have family members who were diagnosed with the disorder. Dissociative disorders are also aggravated and increased during traumatic and stressful periods such as natural disasters and wars. It is also said that women are more prone to suffer dissociative disorders than men.


The Symptoms of Dissociative Disorders

People who have memory loss and can’t recall a certain event usually suffer from dissociative amnesia. By forgetting the traumatic experience, it allows them to completely block it off their minds. This memory loss is beyond normal. Some might even find it difficult to remember their personal information and have the inability to recall their past experiences. Other symptoms of dissociative disorder are depression, anxiety, and confusion.


The Difference Between Amnesia and Dissociative Amnesia

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People might believe that these “amnesia and dissociative amnesia” are the same thing. However, they are completely different. Amnesia is usually caused by an accident, head injury or any physical injury that will cause an individual to suffer from memory loss. Other factors such as lack of sleep, drug and alcohol abuse can also lead to amnesia and other dissociative disorders.

Dissociative amnesia, on the other hand, is a mental illness. The memories of past events still linger deep in the person’s mind, but still, they have the inability to recall the incident. However, different surroundings and people might trigger them to recall some parts of the incident.


How Dissociative Disorders are Diagnosed

Even though there are no specific lab tests that can diagnose dissociative disorders, doctors usually perform a series of exams on the patient. They also study their medical records. Dissociative disorders can be sometimes be diagnosed after blood tests, physical tests and neurological tests.


Can Dissociative Amnesia Be Prevented?

Unfortunately, there is no medication that can help in preventing this disorder. The only solution to put an end to dissociative amnesia or any dissociative disorder for that matter is to get immediate treatment from a mental health professional. After a traumatic event has occurred, it would be best for the individual to seek help in preventing dissociative amnesia.


How Is Dissociative Amnesia Treated and How to Handle It

Whilst there is no medication that can completely treat dissociative amnesia, psychiatrists might prescribe some anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication to relieve anxiety and depression associated with the disorders. Apart from this, a professional can also find the most suitable therapy for the patient to cope up and handle his disorder accordingly.


What are the Treatment Options for Dissociative Amnesia?

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After an examination, the professional will choose the most suitable type of therapy. There are various therapy forms that can help with the treatment of dissociative amnesia. Here are some options:


Music and Art Therapy

This allows patients to express their feelings in a healthy and creative manner. They also learn to explore hidden and deep feelings.



This type of treatment is used to treat both mental and emotional health. They use psychological techniques to address the problem.


Go to therapy if you believe it is what you need to get better. According to Jamie Marich, Ph.D., LPCC-S, LICDC-CS, RMT, “Use an Internet search engine and type in the name of your location, plus the words “trauma” and/or “PTSD.” Professionals who feel competent to work in the area of trauma will generally list this on their websites.”


Family Therapy

Family therapy allows the family to work together with the patient. It’s essential for the family to be aware of the patient’s condition. They also need therapy to have the ability to cope with the patient.