What is it?

Dissociative amnesia is a condition in which a person cannot remember important information about their life. This forgetting may be limited to some specific regions (thematic) or may include much of the person’s life history and/or identity (general).

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Signs & symptoms

There are three types of dissociative amnesia:
- Localized: Memory loss affects specific areas of knowledge or parts of a person’s life, such as a certain period during childhood or anything about a friend or coworker. Often memory
loss focuses on a specific trauma.
- Generalized: Memory loss affects significant parts of a person’s life and/or identity, such as the inability to recognize your name, job, family, and friends.
- Fugue: With dissociative fugue, the person has generalized amnesia and adopts a new identity.

Most cases of dissociative amnesia are relatively short. Often, memories return wholly and suddenly. Memory recovery may be triggered by something in the person’s surroundings or in therapy.


A diagnosis of dissociative amnesia involves a comprehensive medical history, questioning about symptoms, and physical examination. Although there are no laboratory tests to diagnose dissociative disorders, extensive tests might be necessary, such as blood tests or imaging (X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs). That to ensure the patient doesn’t have a physical illness or side effects from a medication. If the person doesn’t have a physical illness, they might be referred to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychiatric social worker.


Treatments for dissociative amnesia include therapy and medications:
- Therapy: include talk therapy (psychotherapy), cognitive behavioral therapy, and hypnosis.
- Medications: There are no medications to treat dissociative amnesia specifically. However, medications may be used to treat conditions that can occur along, such as depression and anxiety disorders.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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