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Dissociative amnesia - Causes, symptoms and treatment. MF.

  • Dissociative amnesia - Causes, symptoms and treatment. MF.

    Dissociative amnesia is a memory loss that is not associated with any other disease. It begins suddenly, after a traumatic event( dramatic periods, events, or even in childhood), it is more difficult than usual forgetfulness. Dissociative amnesia is a way to escape from reality. The patient loses the connection and continuity between thought, memories and surrounding and his actions.

    Causes of dissociative amnesia

    The emergence of dissociative amnesia is a way to cope with psychological trauma. The disorder originates from childhood. In childhood, the child has more developed imagination, and in times of stress, it is easier for him to step back from the situation. If stress affects a long period of time, the protective mechanisms of childhood are fixed and degenerated into an adult disease - dissociative disorder. According to statistics, those who experienced sexual or emotional abuse in the past are more at risk of developing amnesia. Sometimes children who are subjected to long-term physical punishment by parents or teachers fall ill.


    In adults, the disease is caused, as a rule, by stress, received in the war zone or natural disasters.

    Symptoms of dissociative amnesia

    Symptoms usually develop as a reaction to a traumatic event. A stressful condition can temporarily aggravate the symptoms, which makes them even more obvious. Dissociative disorders cause problems with the functioning of a person in everyday life. Common signs for all types of dissociative amnesia include the following:

    - Memory loss( amnesia) of certain time periods, events.
    - There are problems with recognizing familiar people and relatives.
    - The episode of amnesia can last minutes, hours, or less often, a month.
    - Sometimes, amnesia is complicated by other mental health problems, including depression and anxiety and thoughts of suicide.
    - Often patients may not recognize themselves.
    - People and things around seem to be strange and unreal.
    - The patient does not feel himself to be an individual.
    - There are problems at work or in other important areas of the patient's life.

    Complicated symptoms:

    - Suicidal attempts and self-aggression.
    - Sexual dysfunction, including sexual addiction.
    - Alcoholism and substance abuse.
    - Depression, sleep disorders( insomnia and sleepwalking).
    - Anxiety and eating disorders.
    - Severe headache.

    Diagnosis of dissociative amnesia

    Doctors diagnose a dissociative disorder based on an analysis of the patient's personal history and the presence of three or more symptoms( see above).There are studies that identify head injuries, brain diseases, sleep disorders or intoxication of the body. Everything that can cause similar symptoms and affect the development of the disease is excluded. If there are no physical reasons, then a more narrow specialist in this field, for example a psychiatrist, is engaged in the diagnosis.

    The psychiatrist conducts a more in-depth interview on issues related only to mental health. Sometimes sedatives and hypnosis are used. This can help the doctor determine the nature of the harmful memories that played an important role in the development of amnesia.

    How the doctor recognizes dissociative amnesia:
    1. Assessment of the patient's mental state. The patient should be oriented in place, time and space. Thinking is a little slow. It is difficult to recall events from the past in memory. Recall the current events for the patient is not difficult.
    2. The presence of specific symptoms indicating a mental disorder is found out: the patient does not strive for frankness, but rather tries to mask the real cause of his illness with amnesia.
    3. Patients may think but not express thoughts of suicide, so be more vigilant about this.
    4. Isolate the risk group of people more prone to the disease. Dissociative amnesia is most common among veterans of war who survived concentration camps and natural disasters. Also among early orphaned children or subjected to ill-treatment. The probability of developing the disease directly depends on the degree of mental trauma received.
    5. Dissociative amnesia differs from other types of amnesia. The onset of the disease has a more sudden onset than other types of memory loss.

    Treatment of dissociative amnesia

    Drug therapy.

    Although there are no drugs that are specifically used to treat dissociative amnesia, the doctor can prescribe:

    - antidepressants: azafen, amitriptyline, siretill, cypralex, velaxin, deprim, melipramine.
    - antipsychotic drugs: haloperidol, droperidol, azaleprol, azaleptin, aminazine, invega, clopixol, paliperidone, olanzapine.
    - nootropics or drugs improving the cerebral circulation and vitamins: pyracetam, etiracetam, aniracetam, oxyracetam, pramiracetam, dupracetam, rolziracetam deanol, aceglumate, meclofenoxate, deanola aceglumate, pyrithinol, glycine, biotredin, idebenone, meclofenoxate, gamma-aminobutyric acid( Aminalon),nicotinoyl-GABA( picamilon), gamma-amino-beta-phenylbutyric acid hydrochloride( Phenibut), gopanthenic acid, pantogam, calcium gamma-hydroxybutyrate( Neurobutal).
    This will help control the symptoms of amnesia associated with dissociative disorder.

    Phytotherapy.

    Soothing herbs.
    Valerian root - relieve nervous tension and solve difficulties with falling asleep.
    Schizandra grass is used in cases of excessive nervous excitability, has a mild
    sedative effect, helps with states of tension and anxiety.
    Buzzle hops - a pronounced relaxing effect.
    Motherwort - has a beneficial effect on cardiac activity, restores the rhythm of the heart.

    Natural antidepressants.
    The ginseng root - improves concentration and memory( (increases the synthesis of neurotransmitters( conductors) in the brain)), adds vital energy, increases resistance to stress and immunity, exhibits antioxidant properties.
    St. John's Wort - contains flavonoids, quercetin and rutin, vitamins A and C. It is recommended for mild memory disorders and depression, also for insomnia or migraines.

    Psychotherapy for dissociative amnesia

    Psychotherapy is the mainstream for the treatment of dissociative amnesia. The psychotherapist will help to understand the cause of the condition and to form new ways of coping with stressful circumstances in the patient. Only after the expiration of the time the patient will be able to return to the traumatic circumstances in memories, to discuss the incident without hindrance. Later, the skills of coping with stress will be actively formed, the patient will feel the improvement and the return of memory.

    Methods used in psychotherapy of dissociative amnesia:

    - hypnosis will help restore memory, identify traumatic events that affect the development of amnesia. This is a long and laborious work, but this approach to treatment is most effective. Hypnosis creates a state of deep relaxation and soothes the mind. The state of hypnosis enables you to better focus on a certain thought, memory, feelings, memories are not blocked.
    - creative art therapy - the patient is involved in the creative process. This helps people who have difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings. Art helps to know yourself, to cope with the symptoms of traumatic experiences and to promote positive changes. Creative art therapy includes art, dance and movement, theater, music and poetry.
    - cognitive therapy is a conversational type of therapy that helps determine negative beliefs and behavior, and replace them with healthy and positive ones. The method is based on the idea that your own thoughts govern you, and not vice versa. Even if the situation can not change, we can change the form of thinking and behavior in a positive way.

    Prevention of dissociative amnesia

    Prevention plays an important role in preventing the onset of the disease, since most dissociative disorders are "from childhood".

    • If stress or other circumstances affect the child, you should urgently seek specialized care.
    • Children suffering physically and emotionally are more at risk of developing mental disorders and dissociative amnesia.
    • If a child has been subjected to violence or has experienced a traumatic event, immediately consult a doctor. The doctor will help the child correctly form the skills of overcoming and painlessly survive such a situation.
    • Review the attitude to your child, try not to hurt his psyche.
    • Do not overstress the treatment of a therapist if stressful situations occur in your life that can cause mental distress.
    • Talk to someone you trust( friend, your doctor, or minister of your religious community).If necessary, contact support groups.
    • Read the literature on children, this will help you learn about a more correct style of parenting.

    Doctor psychiatrist Kondratenko NA