Dissociative amnesia is a subcategory and subtype of dissociative disorder and amnesia. DD is a mental health condition comprising of breakdown and disruption of awareness, consciousness, memory, perception, and identity. Today, we’ll discuss what is dissociative amnesia; its symptoms, types, causes, and treatment.
What is Dissociative Amnesia?
Dissociative Amnesia is when you forget significant information about your life like personal history, friends, and family names. It could happen to anyone after a stressful and traumatic event. The memory loss under dissociative amnesia is way beyond the boundary of normal forgetfulness. It comprises gaps in memory of the long period of memory or time relevant to the traumatic event.
However, dissociative amnesia is not simply a subcategory of amnesia, it comprises losing information from the memory as a result of brain injury or disease. The forgotten memories exist in your brain but are hidden somewhere in your mind that you can’t access. They may appear on the surface again when the person comes in contact with the triggering factors in the environment.
Some experts are against the idea of “hidden” or “buried” memories and they claim that it isn’t always true. It is because they amplify the risk of recovering the false traumatic memories that the brain creates in order to fill the gaps.
Symptoms of Dissociative Amnesia
Some of the main symptoms that characterize dissociative amnesia are as follows;
The loss of memory could be completely (generalized) or for a certain period of time (localized). People with DA don’t remember the information relevant to the event, identity, or personal history, but they retain the memory of general information. However, some amnesia types are associated with dementia, where a person faces difficulty in developing new memories. Aside from such types of amnesia, people with DA retain their cognitive functions and develop new memories.
Often, people with DA conditions don’t pay a lot of attention to amnesia. Normally, losing memory and don’t remember the information about your life can cause you a lot of distress. Usually, people recover their memories when falling down with DA.
DA has got association and relevance with certain types of stressful and traumatic events of life like a warzone, military combat, physical/sexual abuse, etc. It’s possible that they won’t remember the information relevant to the traumatic event. For instance, a person that has gone through an abusive or traumatic event, then one won’t remember the specific detailed information about the event when it actually occurred.
Sometimes, the duration of DA tends to last for short time like hours and days. The other time, it would last longer.
Other Conditions Can’t Explain
Often, no other medical condition could explain the reason for memory loss. The other conditions like usage of drugs and alcohol, stroke, or brain injury don’t explain the memory loss, especially the people with DA.
Types of Amnesia
Dissociative amnesia (DA) is a very common form of dissociative disorder (DD). DD is a type of mental condition that creates a disconnection between things like your surroundings, identity, and memories. However, people with DD condition feel disconnected from the surrounding world, and the duration of dissociation tends to last for hours, days, weeks, months, or longer. Some of the main types of DA are as follows;
- Localized: it’s a type of DA when you don’t recall the event from the certain time period
- Generalized: it’s when you lose your memory completely like your life history and self-identity, but it happens rarely
- Fugue: fugue dissociative is when you don’t remember the information about your personal life, and you start to wander and visit those places where you don’t go. You would develop a whole new identity in the long term if the condition tends to last
Causes of Dissociative Amnesia
Dissociative amnesia has an association and links with stressful and traumatic events. Some of the examples that could cause it are as follows;
- Severe stress relevant to job, finances, or the relationship
- Experiencing the natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes
- Victim of the violent crime or seeing it being committed
- Experiencing sexual, emotional, or physical abuse
- Being in the warzone or military combat
Many professionals suggest that there are various factors involved in the development of DA conditions. Some of them are as follows;
- Research studies have shown that genetics may cause the development the episode of DA
- The stress of the traumatic event impacts your brain’s capabilities to recover memories relevant to the event
- DA happens when the brain detach itself from the painful memories of the traumatic event as a coping mechanism to protect itself
Diagnosis of Dissociative Amnesia
Your doctor would conduct a thorough physical and medical examination to rule out other causes like;
- Effects of Alcohol or drugs
- Brian injury
After ruling out the physical causes of amnesia, your medical examiner would refer you to a trained psychologist to diagnose the mental illnesses. Your psychologist would ask you a series of questions about your life routine, experiences, and mental functioning level in terms of feelings, behavior, and thoughts.
Treatment of Dissociative Amnesia
The treatment of dissociative amnesia would focus on the following;
- Amplifying the functionality of your brain by learning and managing new skills
- Learning new techniques to deal with the experiences of a traumatic event in the safe way
- Limiting the signs of amnesia, and assisting the mind to reconnect with the surrounding environment
Some of the main treatment plans for dissociative amnesia are as follows;
- Psychotherapy: it comprises hypnosis, CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy), or talk therapy
- Medication: the medicines for depression and anxiety disorder would also treat the symptoms of DA
Conclusion: What is Dissociative Amnesia? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment
After an in-depth study of what is dissociative amnesia; its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment; we have realized that DA could impact the functionality of a person’s life. If you’re observing its symptoms, then you should consult with the therapist in your area.
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