Diagnosis of Dissociative Amnesia

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.

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