A diagnosis is made via a medical professional’s evaluation, and sometimes tests to rule out other possible causes.
Medical professionals diagnose dissociative amnesia based on an individuals’s symptoms:
- Individuals cannot recall important personal information (usually related to the trauma or stress) that would not typically be forgotten.
- They are very distressed by their symptoms, or their symptoms make them unable to function in social situations or at work.
Medical professionals also do a physical examination to exclude neurological causes of amnesia such as dementia.
Tests are sometimes needed to exclude other causes of amnesia. Tests include the following:
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) to rule out brain tumours and other structural brain disorders.
- Electroencephalography (EEG) to rule out a seizure disorderu
- Blood or urine tests for toxins and drugs to rule out, for example, use of recreational or illegal drugsu
A psychological examination is also done. Special psychological tests often help medical professionals better characterise and understand the individual’s dissociative experiences and thus develop a treatment plan.