How is dissociative amnesia diagnosed?

If a patient has symptoms of dissociative amnesia, the doctor will perform a complete medical history and physical examination. Although there are no laboratory tests to diagnose dissociative disorders, the doctor might use blood tests or imaging (X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs) to make sure the patient doesn’t have a physical illness or side effects from a medication.

If the person does not have a physical illness, he or she might be referred to a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychiatric social worker who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. This caregiver will perform a clinical interview to get a full picture of the person’s experiences and current functioning. Some psychiatrists and psychologists may use specialized tests or a standard interview such as the Structured Clinical Interview for Dissociation (SCID-D).

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/20/2016.

References

  • American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.
  • International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. Dissociation FAQs Accessed 5/20/2016.
  • Mental Health America. Dissociation and Dissociative Disorders Accessed 5/20/2016.
  • Steinberg, M. Interviewers’ guide to the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders (SCID-D). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing, 1994.

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