09 Jul What are the Signs of Dissociative Amnesia: Can You Recover?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Dissociative Amnesia Like? – Symptoms and Signs
- 2 Types of Dissociative Amnesia – Facts and Data
- 3 What Causes Dissociative Amnesia?
- 4 Can You Recover? [Diagnosis and Treatment of Dissociative Amnesia]
- 5 Dissociative Amnesia Treatment
- 6 Outlook
- 7 FAQs
- 7.1 #1. How do I know if I am dissociating?
- 7.2 #2. What is the most common form of dissociative amnesia?
- 7.3 #3. What is one of the main indicators of dissociative amnesia?
- 7.4 #4. What is an example of dissociative amnesia?
- 7.5 #5. What triggers dissociation?
- 7.6 #6. How do you ground yourself during dissociation?
With all of us being so occupied with work-from-home jobs and little to no social interaction during the pandemic, it becomes extra crucial to be mindful about mental health.
And when it comes down to mental issues, there’s quite a lot to talk about. And Dissociative amnesia disorder is one such issue we’re going to discuss today.
Dissociative disorders are a group of mental illnesses that involve the breakdown of memories, awareness, identity, and a lot more.
The symptoms of dissociative amnesia disorder might be so minor that you might not even consider them as a symptom of mental illness.
But often small symptoms come together to take the form of this disorder which makes you forget even major events of your life.
In fact, in some rare cases of dissociative fugue, a person might even forget who he really is and build up a completely new identity.
Altogether, in all the cases of dissociative amnesia, a person has a much higher incidence of memory loss than normal amnesia.
Thus, it’s very important to be aware of the symptoms of this disorder to prevent dissociative amnesia from taking a severe form.
What is Dissociative Amnesia Like? – Symptoms and Signs
The symptoms of dissociative amnesia can be mild like being emotionally unstable to also so severe that they interfere with normal functioning.
- Instability in emotions on a constant basis
- Feeling disconnected from reality
- Lack of a sense of identity
- Stress in personal space
- Mental health issues like depression and stress
- Losing memory of important personal details (different from an ordinary forgetful behavior)
- Repressed memory of trauma
When the symptoms become too severe, you can also find yourself in a condition where you stop remembering important details.
Thus, it’s good to visit your doctor when you find yourself surrounded by the following psychogenic amnesia symptoms.
#1. Emotional Instability
A person often goes through a phase in life when he feels his existence is worthless and he has no hold of his emotions.
However, these episodes usually occur when you receive a failure in your relationships or some other major aspect of your life.
But if you realize that such feelings are almost common for you and you see yourself getting way too emotional, here’s a hint!
Recurring feelings of being detached from yourself without any major reason can be one of the first signs of dissociative amnesia.
#2. Feelings of Disconnection
Dissociative amnesia is closely related to a feeling where people feel unreal.
Have you ever felt that the people around you actually do not exist? Or maybe the things that you are surrounded with are unreal?
If yes, then this could be one of the symptoms of dissociative amnesia.
People suffering from this disorder often find their surroundings unreal and feel as if they are living in a world of delusion.
#3. Blurred Sense of Identity
The early signs of dissociative amnesia make you question if your current identity is actually true.
In fact, you might even be doubtful about your residence.
But as the signs become severe, people start getting into the memory loss zone where they almost forget about their personal details.
Thus, as soon as you feel that you are facing difficulties in remembering your true identity, visit your doctor.
#4. Stress in Your Personal Space
Stressful relationships and work environments are clear signs of problems in your mental state.
In fact, stress is one of the core symptoms of all mental problems and, thus, must not be taken lightly.
So, if you ever feel that stress is a constant companion of important areas in your life, make sure it finds its way out too.
Stress can be a real danger and you must not entertain it in your life.
#5. Mental Health Problems
People often tend to ignore their mental health or any such disorders, such as anxiety, stress, and depression.
But the facts say that even the slightest abnormal mental behavior could be an invitation to many more ailments.
Thus, don’t ignore the depression or stress, and consult a doctor for proper treatment.
Apart from this, another common symptom of dissociative amnesia is having suicidal thoughts, and you must not take it lightly.
#6. Memory Loss
One of the most severe symptoms of Dissociative amnesia is memory loss. Usually, the severity of the memory loss categorizes the different types of disorder.
In memory loss characterized by dissociative amnesia, people might forget their personal details, events, but might still have general memory.
On the other hand, in some cases, people have difficulty recalling newer or recent memories.
Though, people with DA often have less concern about their memory loss as compared to people with other types of memory loss.
#7. Forgetting Periods of Trauma
Major causes of DA include stressful traumas like abuse or accidents. People often don’t remember the traumatic incidents responsible for their condition or can even have repressed memories.
Dissociative amnesia stories may include a person forgetting all the details about the accident that caused the disorder.
However, it’s not just the symptoms that are important, we must also be aware of the different types of the disorder.
Types of Dissociative Amnesia – Facts and Data
The disorder is classified into different types depending upon the severity of the memory loss as well as the types of memory loss.
There are a total of four types of DA, along with a unique type of DA which is found in rare cases.
#1. Localised Dissociative Amnesia
In localized DA, memory loss affects only certain parts of the patient’s life. For example, a certain period of childhood.
This type of amnesia focuses on memory loss about a certain event.
For example, a person who went through an accident might not recall its details but remembers everything from the rest of his/her day.
#2. Selective Amnesia
Selective Amnesia often occurs with localized amnesia. But in some cases, it might accompany it. It majorly focuses on forgetting about a particular event only.
For example, forgetting everything about someone’s friend but remembering everyone else.
#3. Continuous Amnesia
This amnesia marks events where people forget about recent or new memories. As newer events occur, people keep on forgetting the previous ones.
#4. Generalized Amnesia
This case of amnesia is rare and involves a complete wash of memories. One might forget everything about his/her personal life.
In these cases, people forget all the memories from a certain point including their places of visit and their acts.
Apart from this, a person might also forget their life skills.
#5. Dissociative Fugue
Fugue is again a rare case of dissociative amnesia.
Such cases are seen mainly because of heartbreaks or because of a person moving far away.
The common dissociative fugue symptoms include moving to a new place and developing a new identity.
The exact cause of this behavior is not yet discovered, but it’s a sudden change that accompanies generalized Amnesia.
A few fugue dissociative amnesia examples include a person who was reported missing by a family and was later found in a village living with another identity.
Talking about the types and symptoms of dissociative amnesia, what piques curiosity is what causes this disorder.
Hence, our next section highlights the factors responsible for causing the disorder.
What Causes Dissociative Amnesia?
The major cause of dissociative amnesia is trauma!
How one defines a trauma varies from person to person, but, usually, any stressful condition can be a trauma.
Not everyone has a loss of memory due to trauma, but for people who do, it’s not a voluntary act!
It’s the brain responding in a way to forget that trauma and cope up with it.
The various examples of trauma causing types of dissociative amnesia are:
- Being in a war
- Experiencing various kinds of abuses like sexual or physical abuse
- Being an eye-witness of a crime
- A natural disaster
- Severe stress due to relationship or work
In case you are wondering what could be the reason behind trauma being a cause of the disorder, it’s the combination of the reactions that put your brain in conditions like:
- Brain’s attempt to cope up with a situation and protect you from painful mental torture by forgetting all about it.
- The stress hampers the normal functioning of the brain, and, thus, it fails to retrieve data.
- Some studies also show that genetics can be a reason behind hypersensitivity to any trauma leading to DA.
However, despite knowing the signs and causes, some people might not be actually able to identify the disorder.
Well, these symptoms and causes are common for almost all mental disorders. Thus, it’s important to undergo the right diagnosis under a specialized doctor.
Once your doctor diagnoses your medical condition, he will move forward with the treatment.
To quench your curiosity about how the dissociative amnesia test will be conducted and what will be the treatment, here’s the next segment.
Can You Recover? [Diagnosis and Treatment of Dissociative Amnesia]
Once you find yourself getting too many ticks in the checklist of symptoms, it is time to visit a doctor.
Your doctor will initiate your clinical examination by first evaluating your medical history including your physical examination.
These tests are performed to rule out any possibilities of medication side effects or other mental illnesses. There are many disorders like brain diseases, head injuries, and sleeplessness that cause symptoms similar to dissociative amnesia.
If no such cases are recorded, you’ll be further recommended to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
The psychiatrists have special assessment tools that evaluate you for your dissociative amnesia.
Once all such evaluations are done, and if you turn out to be suffering from this disorder, there’s nothing to worry about.
The disorder is curable and you can follow many treatments.
Dissociative Amnesia Treatment
The major goal of providing treatment to DA patients is to relieve the symptoms and control behavioral problems.
The next step of the treatment aims at making the person express his emotions and pain, develop new life skills, and improve relationships.
These treatments are planned according to the severity and symptoms of the patients.
Some of the well-established treatments that doctors usually recommend are:
These therapies include sessions for patients suffering from mental and emotional disorders. It aims at enhancing the communication skills of the patients.
There’s no such specific dissociative amnesia medication. However, patients of DA suffering from depression and anxiety are prescribed anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs.
This helps keep them emotionally stable.
#3. Cognitive Therapy
This therapy focuses on changing the thinking patterns of the patient and recording the feelings and behavior that result after the changes.
#4. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
It was originally used for treating personality disorders but now its major use is in trauma-driven mental disorders.
The therapy includes mindfulness, learning to tolerate stress, regulate emotions, and learn better communication skills.
#5. Eye Movement Desensitization
It helps people with trauma. The therapist guides his patients with eye movements while making them recall traumatic incidents.
These eye movements trigger stimulation in the brain that helps lessen the emotional baggage accompanying the incidents.
#6. Creative Therapies
There are many creative therapies like art, music, dance, and other such organized physical recreation activities that help patients explore different areas of interest.
This helps lessen the emotional instability.
This also comes under creative therapies and helps relax and calm the patients. It is useful in helping patients develop a coping mechanism for stress and memories.
#8. Clinical Hypnosis
This treatment includes intense relaxation, concentration, and focused attention to achieve a state of consciousness where people can explore their life.
It allows people to explore their thoughts, feelings, and memories that are buried deep and hidden from conscious minds.
However, this treatment is controversial as it might also create false memories.
Usually, for people suffering from dissociative amnesia, the memories return, maybe slowly or sometimes all of a sudden.
Thus, it’s not something to be much worried about.
Moreover, the disorder is short-lived, for example, it could last for a week or months.
However, in some cases, it could go on for years too!
In fact, it’s even possible to witness multiple episodes of this disorder over the course of one’s life.
Though, the overall outlook for dissociative amnesia is good. The prognosis usually varies depending on the type and severity of the disorder. And there are proven treatments to help the patient cope with the symptoms.
Here are the answers to your most commonly asked queries.
#1. How do I know if I am dissociating?
Almost everyone, at some point in their lives, feels dissociation. Many things can be a reason behind dissociation. For example, it could be after a traumatic event.
The symptoms of dissociation include:
- Forgetting some events or personal details
- Feeling disconnected from yourself
- Developing multiple identities
- Feeling emotionally detached from the world around you
- Little or no pain at all
- Blurred identity
#2. What is the most common form of dissociative amnesia?
The most common form of dissociative amnesia is the localized amnesia where people often forget about certain periods of their life.
They might even forget about a particular event or a particular person and remember everything else.
For example, people often forget the traumatic incident occurring on a particular day but remember all the other parts of the same day.
#3. What is one of the main indicators of dissociative amnesia?
The main indicators or symptoms of dissociative amnesia involve memory loss that is severe than the normal habit of forgetting things.
This memory loss cannot be explained in the terms of any other medical conditions.
Moreover, dissociative amnesia sees such a severe memory loss that people even forget their personal details and identity.
#4. What is an example of dissociative amnesia?
Dissociative amnesia can be of various types, the most common one being localized amnesia.
For example, a person met an accident that was so traumatizing that his brain went into dissociative amnesia.
He remembered everything from the day the accident happened but had no idea about the accident.
#5. What triggers dissociation?
The exact cause of dissociation is not yet established, however, most of the cases are because of traumatic incidents. But it can also be because of a strong stressful condition.
#6. How do you ground yourself during dissociation?
Grounding techniques help you stay connected with the present and help you stay away from incidents or feelings that may hurt you.
You can follow the tips below:
- Breathe slowly.
- Listen to the sounds around you.
- Try walking barefoot for better blood circulation.
- Wrap a blanket around yourself and concentrate your feelings over the blanket.
- Touch or sniff something with a powerful smell.